(To watch the video with sign language interpretation, click here.)
The Government will make a careful assessment before invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO) again.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the remarks ahead of this morning’s Executive Council meeting, saying the only prerequisite or condition to invoke the ordinance is to achieve the objective of ending violence and restoring law and order in Hong Kong.
Mrs Lam told reporters that it was a very difficult decision to invoke the ordinance to introduce the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation because of resistance, enforcement concerns and perception of the law.
“So what I can assure you is that the Government would take a very serious view and very careful assessment before the ERO is to be invoked again.”
The Chief Executive added that it is too early to say whether the anti-mask law is effective, as it takes time for a new policy or legislation to be effectively implemented.
She also said complications and misunderstandings will naturally arise when enforcing the new regulation.
“Especially when the anti-mask law has provided for some legitimate defences and exemptions for certain categories of people to continue to wear a mask for various purposes – for medical and health purposes, for religious purposes and also for news reporting purposes.”
On reporters wearing masks when working, Mrs Lam said: “Because journalists are very much in the frontline reporting on the confrontations, we have to have a better understanding to find a way that could strike the needed balance between respecting the rights of journalists to report on the scene, but at the same time allowing Police to enforce the law.
“If there are any particular concerns, I will ask my colleagues, not only Police, but maybe even the Information Services Department, to come in, to see whether we could find a better way to achieve that objective.”
Asked whether she will call on the Central People’s Government to help restore order to the city, Mrs Lam said: “At this point in time, I still strongly feel that we should find the solutions ourselves. That is also the position of the Central Government that Hong Kong should tackle the problem on her own.”
The Chief Executive added that no options could be ruled out if Hong Kong was to have another chance.
“But at this moment, I and my team, we are still very committed to making sure that we can use our own instruments – legal instruments, political instruments like continuing dialogue, policy instruments like addressing some of the deep-seated problems on the livelihood and economy side – to try to restore calm and order in Hong Kong.
“I would appeal to everyone in society to join hands to achieve this objective.”