Hong Kong uses colonial-era emergency law to ban wearing masks at protests, sparking night of violence

Updated 4:09 PM EDT, Fri October 4, 2019
Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up their hands to symbolise their five demands during a protest against an expected government ban on protesters wearing face masks at Chater Garden in Hong Kong on October 4, 2019. - Hong Kong
PHOTO: Mohd Rasfan/AFPGetty Images
Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up their hands to symbolise their five demands during a protest against an expected government ban on protesters wearing face masks at Chater Garden in Hong Kong on October 4, 2019. - Hong Kong's government was expected to meet October 4 to discuss using a colonial-era emergency law to ban pro-democracy protesters from wearing face masks, in a move opponents said would be a turning point that tips the financial hub into authoritarianism. (Photo by Mohd RASFAN / AFP) (Photo by MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:00
Hong Kong leader bans wearing masks at protests
CATANIA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18, 2021 - Mount Etna erupts in Sicily sending plumes of ash and spewing lava into air - PHOTOGRAPH BY Marco Restivo / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Marco Restivo/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
CATANIA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18, 2021 - Mount Etna erupts in Sicily sending plumes of ash and spewing lava into air - PHOTOGRAPH BY Marco Restivo / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Marco Restivo/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:04
See mesmerizing footage of Mount Etna spewing lava
Vials of vaccine are packed at the Generium Pharmaceutical plant, which is gearing up production of Sputnik V.
PHOTO: CNN
Vials of vaccine are packed at the Generium Pharmaceutical plant, which is gearing up production of Sputnik V.
Now playing
03:21
Exclusive: Inside Russia's new Covid-19 vaccine factory
el chapo who is rs orig_00000406.jpg
el chapo who is rs orig_00000406.jpg
Now playing
00:57
Who is 'El Chapo'?
screengrab codogno lockdown one year on
PHOTO: CNN
screengrab codogno lockdown one year on
Now playing
02:20
Residents in Italian town reflect on life one year under pandemic
People clean tar from an oil spill in the Mediterranean sea in Gador nature reserve near Hadera, Israel, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Hundreds of volunteers are taking part in a cleanup operation of Israeli shoreline as investigations are underway to determine the cause of an oil spill that threatens the beach and wildlife, at Gador Nature Reserve near the northern city of Hadera, the tar smeared fish, turtles, and other sea creatures.
PHOTO: Ariel Schalit/AP
People clean tar from an oil spill in the Mediterranean sea in Gador nature reserve near Hadera, Israel, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Hundreds of volunteers are taking part in a cleanup operation of Israeli shoreline as investigations are underway to determine the cause of an oil spill that threatens the beach and wildlife, at Gador Nature Reserve near the northern city of Hadera, the tar smeared fish, turtles, and other sea creatures.
Now playing
01:10
Oil spill leads Israel to close beaches
Now playing
03:26
CNN speaks with sister of slain Myanmar protest victim
Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his speech to Parliament, in in the House of Commons, London, about setting out the road map for easing coronavirus restrictions across England. Picture date: Monday February 22, 2021. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
PHOTO: House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his speech to Parliament, in in the House of Commons, London, about setting out the road map for easing coronavirus restrictions across England. Picture date: Monday February 22, 2021. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:09
Here's what we know about England's reopening plans
Luca Attanasio - The ambassador killed in DR Congo. He and the military were traveling aboard a car in a MONUSCO convoy, the United Nations stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
PHOTO: Italian Embassy Kinshasa
Luca Attanasio - The ambassador killed in DR Congo. He and the military were traveling aboard a car in a MONUSCO convoy, the United Nations stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Now playing
01:43
What we know about the killing of Italy's ambassador to the DRC
Iraq Baghdad coronavirus Covid-19 ICU Damon pkg intl hnk vpx_00002701.png
Iraq Baghdad coronavirus Covid-19 ICU Damon pkg intl hnk vpx_00002701.png
Now playing
03:27
Rare access inside a hospital shows how Iraq is handling Covid-19
PHOTO: Track 88
Now playing
02:00
Footage shows debris from plane in Dutch town
Taktshang Goemba(Tiger
PHOTO: Shutterstock
Taktshang Goemba(Tiger's Nest Monastery), Monastery, Bhutan, in a mountain cliff.
Now playing
03:24
This country still only has 1 reported death from Covid-19
Police security stand guard behind a road barricade in Mandalay, Myanmar Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. A young woman who was shot in the head by police during a protest last week against the military
PHOTO: AP
Police security stand guard behind a road barricade in Mandalay, Myanmar Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. A young woman who was shot in the head by police during a protest last week against the military's takeover of power in Myanmar died Friday morning, her brother said. (AP Photo)
Now playing
03:00
Pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar met with violence
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
03:38
Olympics chief row reveals a deeper problem in Japanese politics
A screen shot of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
PHOTO: GPO
A screen shot of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Now playing
02:47
Israeli opposition horrified by Netanyahu deal with homophobic party
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
05:40
Beijing faces new abuse claims from Xinjiang
(CNN) —  

Hong Kong’s leader invoked rarely-used emergency powers to ban people from wearing face masks during public assemblies, a move that enraged thousands of protesters who marched through streets across the territory on Friday night.

The city’s major transport network MTR suspended all of its operations after demonstrators vandalized a number of areas within Hong Kong – from train stations to shopping malls and banks.

The mask ban comes into effect on October 5, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced at a press conference Friday, following a special meeting of her cabinet, the Executive Council.

The embattled leader said the order to enact the “Prohibition On Face Covering Regulation” was a “necessary decision” but insisted it does not mean Hong Kong was in a state of emergency.

“We are now in a rather extensive and serious public danger. It is essential for us to stop violence and restore calm to society as soon as possible,” she said. “We believe the new law will create a deterrent effect against masked protesters and rioters.”

Lam said she won’t set a date to nullify the anti-mask law.

The vast majority of people who have attended the city’s recent pro-democracy demonstrations do so wearing masks to hide their identity, fearful that they could be arrested or targeted by police. Gas masks and respirators to protect against tear gas, which is often used by authorities to disperse unauthorized gatherings, have also become commonplace.

In order to enact such a ban the Chief Executive Office will invoke the city’s colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which grants the government sweeping emergency powers.