Hong Kong’s controversial leader Carrie Lam took steps Friday to implement a ban on face masks in the province following months of unrest in the populous Chinese territory.
The Associated Press reported that Lam announced a ban on all masks worn by protesters, using a colonial-era “Emergency Ordinance” that she reportedly pledged to seek legal backing for with the state legislature.
“People are asking can Hong Kong go back to normal? Is Hong Kong still a place where we can have our sweet home?” Lam said Friday, according to the AP.
“We must stop the violence,” Lam reportedly continued. “Now, it’s all over Hong Kong.”
Lam’s tenure as Hong Kong’s chief executive has been marred by months of protests and calls for her resignation following a dispute between demonstrators and Hong Kong’s government over a now-discarded plan to allow Hong Kong citizens to be tried for some crimes on the Chinese mainland.
Violence against protesters at the hands of police has since arisen as its own issue as many demonstrators have called for further pro-democracy concessions from Lam’s leadership.
“We must save Hong Kong, the present Hong Kong and the future Hong Kong,” Lam reportedly said Friday. “We can’t just leave the situation to get worse and worse.”
Protesters reportedly reacted to the ban with chants of “I want to wear face masks” and “wearing a mask is not a crime,” according to the AP, signaling the latest division between residents and the province’s pro-China government.