As cases surges globally in Europe, US, Indonesia and other nations, countries are in fix, to extend masking or to do away with it among vaccinated people.
With the Delta variant pushing US Covid cases back up, fully vaccinated people are wondering whether they need to start masking indoors again. Covid vaccines remain extremely effective against the worst outcomes of the disease — hospitalization and death — and breakthrough infections remain uncommon.
Here is a list of countries that have gone mask-free:
Wearing face masks is no longer mandatory for people in England, but they are still advised to wear them in crowded spaces, a report in World Economic Forum said. People in England no longer have to wear masks after the country lifted almost all Covid-19 restrictions – dubbing it as “freedom day”.
However, in Scotland, masks must still be worn in shops and on public transport – as well as pubs and restaurants when not seated. Similarly in Wales, masks are required in all public indoor areas, apart from when seated to eat or drink. Northern Ireland is mulling to remove restrictions on face coverings in places of worship, or for students in school classrooms from 26 July.
Sweden has never imposed a full lockdown and has only recommended mask-wearing during rush hour on public transport, but the restrictions ended on 1 July.
Unlike most countries, Sweden has relied mainly on voluntary measures to stem the spread of Covid-19, though curbs on opening hours for restaurants and limits on crowds at venues have also been implemented, BBC reported.
Coronavirus cases in Sweden are falling and removing mask recommendations is likely to have minimal negative impact because rules were “poorly followed in the first place”. However, most travellers returning to Sweden will need to be tested for Covid-19.
Most of the states in US have removed the mandatory face mask rule for people who are fully vaccinated. Americans who administered both the vaccine shots no longer need to wear a face mask outdoors while running, walking, and in small gatherings, but it is still necessary in crowded gatherings like sports events. Around 31 states that had orders broadly requiring residents to wear masks in public have lifted them, reports said.
However, eight state governments require people who are not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear face coverings in most indoor public settings. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also have mask orders in place.
The country where this pandemic began is now a mask-free nation. China was one of the worst-affected countries in the initial days, but the government curbed the situation with strict lockdowns.
Reports say that almost the entire country is vaccinated against Coronavirus. China reported 35 new COVID-19 cases in the mainland on July 23, down from 48 cases a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Saturday.
The prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has received praises from all over the world for its quick response to the pandemic and making the country a COVID and mask free nation so quickly. The country reported just 2,658 COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths.
Face masks are no longer mandatory in Hungary with the exception of hospitals, although people are being told to wear a mask if they choose to.
In May, the Hungarian government had announced that most of the country’s remaining restrictions, including the mask mandate, would be lifted upon reaching five million vaccinations. This was achieved in May after it reached the desired targets.
Italy became a mask-free and low-risk coronavirus zone in June. This declaration marks a milestone for the country, which was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in February 2020.
For the first time since then, the country’s health ministry classified its 20 regions as “white” areas last month, suggesting low risk of transmission. Italy uses a colour-coded system to evaluate COVID-19 risks.
Israel Takes U-turn
Israel last month reintroduced a requirement to wear masks indoors amid a rise in coronavirus cases, just days after it lifted the measure. The country is among most successful countries in the world in tackling the pandemic.
However, it has recorded surge in infections, mostly due to the Delta variant from abroad. The coronavirus cabinet approved new restrictions last Thursday amid rising daily cases and the restrictions, pending government approval, will go into effect next Thursday.
Australia Tightens Rules
For most of 2020, Australians had enjoyed life with few restrictions. Face masks weren’t required as the country consistently recorded days when no Covid cases were found at all.
Amid rising cases in Australia, the requirement to wear a face mask in all indoor areas of non-residential premises that was recently applied in greater Sydney has been extended to all of New South Wales. Similar rules have been imposed in Victoria, according to which, masks must be worn everywhere except for in your home.
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