Pan-democratic lawmakers have slammed the government’s decision to introduce a new anti-mask law, saying it is full of loopholes and can easily lead to police officers abusing their powers.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung said he’s concerned protesters could be arrested for carrying masks in their bags, if officers suspect they can be used for “illegal purposes”. He is also worried that social workers and first aiders providing assistance at protest sites could be prosecuted for covering their faces to protect themselves from tear gas and pepper spray.

He also questioned the Chief Executive’s remark that the new ban could quell protests, saying Carrie Lam should “open her eyes” and take a look at all the demonstrations that are occurring across Hong Kong immediately after she made the announcement.

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, meanwhile, warned the mask ban would pave the way for authorities to impose more “draconian” measures under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to further restrict people’s rights and freedoms.

Neo-democrats Gary Fan accused the SAR leader of damaging the future of Hong Kong by turning the city into a ‘police state’. He said Lam had planted a new political bomb to try and diffuse a previous one left by the extradition law.

In a statement, Demosisto said using the emergency provisions means more “draconian laws” are in the pipeline and warned that Hong Kong’s standing as a financial centre is under threat.

It said by enacting the emergency law, the Hong Kong government has failed to maintain its autonomy and has succumbed to pressure from Beijing.

Meanwhile, all 40 pro-government lawmakers said they support the government’s decision, saying they believe it will quell escalating violence in the city.

In a statement, the legislators said the new regulation will allow the police to conduct arrests more easily, and will deter violent protesters from engaging in unlawful acts.