Anti-extradition bill protesters march to demand democracy and political reforms, in Hong Kong, China August 18, 2019. (Screen-grab, Courtesy: Reuters)
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Hong Kong:

Hong Kongs entire metro rail network was at a standstill on Saturday, while dozens of shopping centres, shops, and banks, also remained closed as the city reeled from the aftermath of another night of widespread destruction and violence.

The violence came after the Carrie Lam-led Hong Kong government earlier on Friday introduced a ban on people wearing masks at public assemblies, colonial-era emergency legislation that has not been used in more than half a century.

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The ban was aimed at putting a stop to nearly four months of anti-government protests in the city that started against the now-shelved extradition bill, the South China Morning Post reported.

After the unprecedented shutdown of all Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations late on Friday night, the MTR Corporation announced at 3.45 a.m. on Saturday that none of the lines could be reopened in the morning.

“After the outbreak of violence at multiple districts, maintenance staff have to make sure of their own safety before they can travel to the damaged stations to inspect and assess the extent of damages at our stations, and to carry out repair work,” the rail operator said on its website, adding that it would review the situation later in the day.

More than 20 shopping centres were also closed across the city, while all performances at the West Kowloon Cultural District on Saturday have been cancelled or rescheduled.

One of the city’s two largest supermarket chains, ParknShop, announced on its Facebook page its stores would not open for the day, while Watsons, a pharmacy chain, also said all its stores, except those at the Hong Kong International Airport, would remain shut.

Several banks have suspended services at some branches because of vandalised facilities and traffic disruptions, including Bank of China, which closed all branches except one, the South China Morning Post reported.

On Friday night, protesters wearing masks in open defiance of the new law, also blocked roads and vandalised and burned shops, and bank outlets.

Police began taking control later at night, firing tear gas at violent mobs.

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