Protesters Defy Mask Ban On Halloween As Hong Kong Falls Into Recession

After going through and enduring around five months of continuous protests from its citizens due to the ever-persistent trade war between the U.S. and China, Hong Kong’s economy officially sank into recession, dropping around 3.2 percent in the three months, ending in September. According to Hong Kong officials, this year’s recession is easily the worst economic performance of the city since a decade ago, when it hit global financial crisis. Additionally, it’s also the biggest damage ever directly caused by political unrest.

At the moment, weekends are plagued with road blockages and public transport shutdowns, as well as malls and establishments that close early. Visitors and tourist rates have plummeted, with one study stating it has dropped by about 55 percent.

And now, right when Halloween season came into full swing, protesters have used it as a way to further speak out, making demonstrations that challenge the recent ban on Halloween masks. In fact, around 7pm on the night of October 31, protesters started showing up wearing masks of government leaders like Xi Jinping and Carrie Lam , gathering in the district to shout slogans such as “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

This resulted in a standoff against the police, which then led to an immediate evacuation of the district. But it wasn’t the last because the night consisted of multiple clashes between protesters and police all across the city, even pushing some officers to fire canisters of tear gas just to contain the incidents.

Since last night, dozens of protesters have been arrested due to the violation of the prohibition. Started by Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, the apparent ban on the use of face masks in public gatherings has led to some of the most violent protests since June. Pan-democratic lawmakers are also tagging the ban as unconstitutional, mainly because it didn’t pass the usual legislative process.

Prior October 31, however, preparations have been made to ensure everyone is safe from the dangers of the protests, with the police force announcing the closing of some plazas and roads, as well as some transportation services. Nevertheless, tensions continue to rise in the city.

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, smokes a cigarette during an Occupy LA protest in Los Angeles Image REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson