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Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation gazetted
     The Government will put in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to ban the use of facial covering in public meetings and processions regulated under the Public Order Ordinance (Cap. 245) and unlawful and unauthorised assemblies as well as riots. Offenders will be liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for one year.
     The legislative measure was announced at a press conference hosted by the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, this afternoon (October 4).
     The Regulation is published in the Gazette today (October 4) for commencement tomorrow (October 5).

     It is a defence for a person charged with an offence of violating the prohibition to establish that he had reasonable excuse for using a facial covering. These reasonable excuses include, but are not limited to, pre-existing medical or health reasons, religious reasons and a person being engaged in a profession or employment and using the face covering for his physical safety while performing an activity connected with his profession or employment.
     Apart from this, where a police officer finds in any public place any person who is using a facial covering that the police officer reasonably believes is likely to prevent identification, the police officer may stop and require the person in the public place to remove the facial covering for verifying the identity of the person. The maximum penalty for failure to comply is a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for six months.
     The prohibition is effected as a regulation under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (Cap. 241) on public danger grounds.
     Since June 9, more than 400 public order events arising from the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) have been staged with a significant number of events ending up in outbreaks of violence, a Government spokesperson said, adding that the acts of radical and masked protesters had seriously breached public peace and posed widespread and imminent danger to the community.
     "On September 29 and October 1, the use of violence by masked protesters was extremely radical with the wide use of petrol bombs against life and property; vicious attacks on police officers, vehicles and police stations; and heavy vandalism of MTR stations and government offices, etc. The whole city is in danger and there is a pressing need to restore the normal functions of the community," the spokesperson said.
     "The prohibition on facial covering is urgently needed for police investigation and collection of evidence, and for deterring violent and illegal behaviour. The prohibition is no more than what is necessary and proportionate to protect public order and safety in light of the escalating illegal and violent acts of the masked protesters at recent public order events."
Ends/Friday, October 4, 2019
Issued at HKT 17:00
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