Hong Kong court reinstates mask ban ahead of elections

Focused Practice

A Hong Kong court that had struck down a ban on face masks at protests said Friday that the government could enforce it for one week, as police readied for any unrest during keenly contested elections this weekend.

The High Court granted the temporary suspension “in view of the great public importance of the issues raised in this case, and the highly exceptional circumstances that Hong Kong is currently facing.”

Anti-government protests have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese city for more than five months. Protesters remained holed up on a university campus, refusing to turn themselves in for arrest after intense clashes with police last weekend.

The court had ruled Monday that the ban, imposed last month under rarely used emergency powers to prevent protesters from hiding their identity, infringed on fundamental rights more than was reasonably necessary.

China’s parliament rebuked the court ruling this week, in what some interpreted as an indication it might overrule the decision.

In granting the one-week reprieve, the High Court said it was giving the government time to appeal the decision and seek a longer suspension from the Court of Appeal.

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