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In pictures: The face masks Hong Kong wants to ban

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  • Hong Kong anti-government protests
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For months, Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets, their identities concealed behind masks.

But on Friday - in the face of increasingly violent clashes between hard-line protesters and police - the Chinese territory's government enacted a ban on face masks with the help of a colonial-era law which hadn't been used in decades.

The ban came into effect at midnight Hong Kong time (16:00 GMT) - potentially changing the face of the protests.

Because these masks weren't just a way for the movement to hide their identities from police, employers and parents, but also a layer of protection against the tear gas fired into the demonstrating crowds.

But protesters were not going down without a fight: legal challenges have been launched, with thousands of masked activists taking to the city's streets to voice their anger.

image copyrightEPA
image captionProtesters wasted no time demanding the ban was revoked, demonstrating against it before it was officially announced
image copyrightReuters
image captionThousands of people donned masks during their lunch breaks, before many returned to their offices
image copyrightReuters
image captionBut they rejoined the protests after chief executive Carrie Lam announced the ban would come into effect at midnight
image copyrightReuters
image captionSome people have taken to wearing gas masks in recent weeks, due to the tear gas
image copyrightAFP
image captionThere was mounting anger at Ms Lam, who critics accuse of being a puppet of the Beijing government
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe comedic tone of some masks belied the anger felt. Opposition figures warned it could be the first of more "draconian" steps
image copyrightAFP
image captionAs night fell, the anger appeared to intensify, with buildings and train stations vandalised
image copyrightReuters
image captionBeijing has welcomed the ban, saying it is neccesary to bring the protests to an end
image copyrightAFP
image captionHowever, few know how the police will actually enforce the rule should Hong Kong's protesters choose to ignore it

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  • Hong Kong: Anger as face masks banned after months of protests