Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam arrived at press conference today wearing a surgical face mask, alongside several other members of her senior team.
Just a few months ago, the sight of government officials wearing masks would have been unthinkable -- for a very different reason.
Today's press conference, and the officials' decision to wear masks, come as the Hong Kong government look to step up efforts to enforce better public health measures.
As of today, there are eight confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hong Kong. At the press conference, Lam announced additional measures including restricted travel across the Chinese border.
Masks in a different context: But a little over three months ago, in early October, Lam had invoked colonial-era emergency powers to ban people from wearing face masks in public assemblies as anti-government, pro-democracy protests rocked the city.
Protesters often wore face masks, as well as helmets and goggles, to obscure their identity and protect against tear gas when battling riot police on the streets.
For the entire second half of 2019, face masks were a symbol of the city's political crisis, and a statement on where you stood. When Lam announced the face mask ban, she said it would help "stop violence and restore calm to society," and act as a deterrent for protesters.