Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government would invoke emergency powers to “end violence and restore order” in the special administrative region which has been reeling from months of violent protests.

Lam said the decision to invoke the emergency powers was “a difficult but also a necessary one for public interest”.

Under the new emergency regulation, the government said they would ban face masks starting on Saturday.

The emergency law was first introduced in 1922 while Hong Kong was a British colony. It was last invoked in 1967 and allows for arrests, censorship, controlling movement, appropriation of property among other powers.

Speaking at a news conference, Lam said: “Protests arising from the fugitive offenders bill have continued for nearly four months now. Over this period, protesters’ violence has been escalating and has reached a very alarming level in the past few days, causing numerous injuries, and leaving Hong Kong to a chaotic and panicked situation.”

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