Hong Kong stocks plunged over 350 points in the afternoon trade as the government announced a media briefing amid reports that it will invoke emergency powers to put a ban on face masks during protests.

The Hang Seng Index fell 1.5 percent, or 385 points, soon after officials made the announcement. The index was down was 25,724 just half an hour before the Chief Executive Carrie Lam was to meet the media.

One analyst had warned on Thursday that invoking the colonial era emergency laws to tackle the ongoing unrest would be very dangerous and could lead to investors rushing to pull their money out of the city.

Hong Kong University legal scholar Eric Cheung said Lam should not to take such a “massive gamble” that could “eternally doom” the city and jeopardise its status as an international financial hub.