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2 Hong Kong protesters charged under mask ban

Two protestors were charged Monday in the first violations of Hong Kong’s new ban on wearing masks at rallies, the Associated Press reported.

An 18-year-old student and a 38-year-old woman were the first to be prosecuted under the ban, which was instituted by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Friday using emergency powers.

The two were detained Saturday shortly after the ban’s implementation. A conviction under the mask ban is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine.

The aggressive step from Hong Kong’s government comes amid worsening violence from both sides of the pro-democracy protests.

Protestors have demonstrated for months in the semi-autonomous city. Initially a response to a proposed bill allowing suspected criminals to be extradited to China, the protests have morphed into a pro-democracy and anti-government movement.

Lam withdrew the bill last month, but protests have continued and even expanded.

The mask ban did little to curb protests and was met with tens of thousands donning masks and taking to the streets.

In a statement Monday, police said the “public order of the whole city is being pushed to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” per AP.

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