The Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to ban people from covering up their faces in public meetings and processions regulated under the Public Order Ordinance and unlawful and unauthorised assemblies as well as riots was gazetted today.

 

The regulation will commence on October 5 and is effected as a regulation under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance on public danger grounds.

 

Offenders will be liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for one year.

 

The Government said that people charged with violating the regulation can use reasonable excuses as a defence.

 

These reasonable excuses include pre-existing medical or health reasons, religious reasons, and if the person uses the face covering for physical safety while performing an activity connected with their profession or employment.

 

If a police officer reasonably believes any person is using facial covering to prevent identification, they may stop and require the person in the public place to remove their facial covering for identity verification.

 

The maximum penalty for failure to comply is a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for six months.

 

Since June 9, more than 400 public order events arising from the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance have been staged with a significant number of events ending up in outbreaks of violence, the Government said.

 

It noted the acts of radical and masked protesters had seriously breached public peace and posed widespread and imminent danger to the community.

 

The prohibition on facial covering is urgently needed for police investigation and collection of evidence, and for deterring violent and illegal behavior, it said.

 

The Government added that 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 masked protesters at recent public order events.