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Entire rail network suspended as violence escalates in Hong Kong after face mask ban

Entire rail network suspended as violence escalates in Hong Kong after face mask ban

Protesters burn items at the Causeway Bay metro station entrance in Hong Kong on October 4, 2019, as people hit the streets after the government announced a ban on face masks. (Photo: AFP/Nicolas Asfouri)

HONG KONG: All MTR services as well as several bus services in Hong Kong were suspended on Friday (Oct 4) night amid violent protests, hours after leader Carrie Lam announced an emergency law banning protesters from wearing face masks

According to the MTR website, all 12 lines were disrupted "because of an escalation of the situation".

(Image: Twitter/MTR Service Update)

At about 11pm, Cathay Pacific tweeted that the Airport Express service had also been suspended and asked that commuters consider other modes of transport to the Hong Kong International Airport. 

Bus company NWS said on its website that 41 routes operated by New World First Bus and Citybus were providing "limited level of service" while other routes had been suspended. 

Earlier on Friday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam invoked colonial-era emergency powers to ban protesters wearing face masks, but the move aimed at quelling months of unrest sparked immediate fresh rallies.

READ: Teen shot in Hong Kong during protests sparked by anti-mask law: Reports

READ: Police fire tear gas as protests swell after Hong Kong mask ban

As soon as the law was announced, masked demonstrators built barricades in the heart of Hong Kong's commercial district and began holding flash-mob rallies in multiple districts.

Banks and shops in the busy Central district closed early in anticipation of violence as some protesters burned Chinese flags and chanted "You burn with us" and "Hong Kongers, revolt". 

Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in flashpoint districts across the territory, including Causeway Bay, Sha Tin and Wong Tai Sin.

This combination image created on Oct 4, 2019 shows protesters wearing face masks during demonstrations in Hong Kong. (Photos: AFP/Mark Ralston, Anthony Wallace, Nicolas Asfouri, Mohd Rasfan)

Masked protesters set fire to at least three locations in Causeway Bay, with videos on social media showing protesters continuing to take aim at mainland Chinese businesses and those with pro-Beijing links, smashing windows and setting fire to their premises. 

The new law, which Lam said would take effect at midnight, threatens anyone wearing masks at legal and unsanctioned protests with up to one year in prison.

People can still wear masks in the street, but must remove them if asked to by police.

Exemptions are available for religious and medical reasons and for those who need masks to do their jobs - such as reporters.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

Follow us on Telegram for the latest on Hong Kong: https://cna.asia/telegram 

Source: CNA/hs(hm)

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