Govt appeal starts over court mask ban blow - RTHK
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Govt appeal starts over court mask ban blow

2020-01-09 HKT 11:10
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  • Govt appeal starts over court mask ban blow
  • Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok (left) says the government should drop its appeal in light of a public health scare over a virus outbreak in Wuhan. Photo: RTHK
    Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok (left) says the government should drop its appeal in light of a public health scare over a virus outbreak in Wuhan. Photo: RTHK
The Court of Appeal on Thursday began hearing a challenge brought by the government over a lower court's ruling that a law banning the wearing masks at public assemblies was unconstitutional.

The mask ban was imposed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam early last October, using colonial-era emergency powers, amid the city's serious social unrest.

Pro-establishment figures had been calling for the move for some time, saying the fact that people could hide their identity was emboldening them to join unauthorised protests.

But pro-democracy lawmakers took the matter to court and in November the High Court ruled that the new law was unconstitutional.

Speaking before a two-day hearing got underway on Thursday morning, Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok urged the government to withdraw its appeal, in light of fears that an outbreak of a previously unknown virus in Wuhan has already spread to Hong Kong.

Kwok said people should feel free to wear masks during the current scare, to give them some peace of mind.

"Every Hong Kong citizen is trying to go out there and buy a face mask. Why is it that the government sees that it's still necessary to revive the anti-mask law, when there's a public health crisis that's coming to Hong Kong?" he asked.

The government insists that the mask ban is needed to combat violence in the city and says people who break the law should not have their identities protected.