More than a dozen MTR stations closed on Friday, October 4, amid protests in downtown Hong Kong against plans by the government to use emergency laws to ban face masks. The anti-mask regulation will reportedly go into effect at midnight (local time) on Friday. As of 22:20 on Friday, all services on the MTR's Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong, Ma On Shan, and East Rail lines have been suspended. Bank of China outlets in Tsuen Wan, Chai Wan, and Causeway Bay and the entrances and exits of multiple MTR stations have reportedly been vandalized and set on fire as protesters gather throughout the city, and riot police have reportedly fired tear gas on large groups of protesters on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay. Protests are also possible at the High Court (Admiralty) over the coming hours as activists are reportedly applying for an injunction to halt the government's anti-mask regulation from going into effect. Significant traffic disruptions and a heightened police presence are anticipated in the area.
Further demonstrations are planned on Saturday, October 5, and Monday, October 7. Activists have not announced specific times or locations for Saturday, but protests may occur throughout the downtown area and in other territories.
A heightened security presence is likely across Hong Kong until the situation fully stabilizes. Severe transportation and business disruptions are to be expected during all periods of protest activity.
On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. The bill sparked mass protests of up to 2 million people throughout Hong Kong since June 9. However, protest actions have continued since the government's announcement, as protesters' demands evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement, calling for government reforms and police accountability over violence.
Demonstrations have spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories in recent weeks and have also become increasingly violent. Activists have also accused the police of using unnecessary force in their attempts to disperse protesters.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations, prepare for associated disruptions to transportation and business, budget additional time to reach Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
Individuals are also advised to avoid wearing black and white colors around protest zones or rallies as they are associated with protesters.
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