The Hong Kong subway will remain shut on Saturday following a new wave of protests, sparked by the city government’s decision to outlaw wearing masks in public, Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) announced.
“After the outbreak of violence at multiple districts, maintenance staff are still carrying out repair works at damaged stations. After conducting an assessment jointly with the Police and other relevant government departments, all MTR train service covering the Heavy Rail (except Airport Express) and Light Rail is suspended today. MTR buses will provide limited service from 4pm onwards,” the MTR said in a statement.
On Friday, the Hong Kong government has enacted the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, banning the wearing masks at public meetings and processions, prompting a massive outcry from the city’s opposition, which relies on a facial disguise to protect their identity and evade arrest for participating in unauthorised gatherings.
The severity of the opposition’s backlash was such that the Hong Kong authorities had to shut down all subway stations on Friday night to prevent the situation from further escalation and to repair damage suffered by the stations.
The mass protests started in China’s special administrative region in early June as a reaction to a highly unpopular bill that would have allowed people to be extradited to the mainland. The protests eventually escalated into violent confrontations between demonstrators and the police.
In early September, Lam agreed to formally withdraw the controversial initiative, but protesters have remained in the streets to demand her resignation, retraction of the government’s classification of the violent clashes as riots, an independent inquiry into alleged police violence and release of everyone arrested in the clashes.
Hong Kong law enforcement officers maintain that they use force proportionately and only in response to violent acts or unlawful behaviour by the protesters. Beijing views the situation in Hong Kong as a result of foreign interference in China’s domestic affairs and expresses full support for the actions of the local authorities.