Covid: These 8 countries are going mask-free, making slow return to pre-pandemic life

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Dubai - Having spent so long adjusting to 'new normals' and 'pandemic fatigue', many are longing for the day when we can finally put Covid restrictions behind us.


Karen Ann Monsy

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Published: Sun 27 Jun 2021, 2:04 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Jun 2021, 10:13 AM

It's the thing that probably tops most of our wish lists right now: going back to how things were before the novel coronavirus upended our lives. Having spent a year and a half adjusting to 'new normals' and 'pandemic fatigue', many are longing for the day when we can finally put Covid restrictions behind us.

Hope is on the horizon though for, in recent weeks, some countries have been giving us a glimpse of what living life sans masks, social distancing and lockdowns can look like again.

Yes, there have been some setbacks on that happy road: Israel recently reintroduced its mask-wearing mandate after being one of the first countries to lift the restriction.

However, other countries are also making strides in the right direction. Here's a round-up of places that are making the slow return to pre-pandemic living by going mask-free:

1. USA

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on May 13 announced it was lifting mask-wearing requirements for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," said CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

2. Denmark

On June 14, the Danish government announced that face masks would no longer be required (except when standing on public transport).

The move comes under a deal to ease lockdown rules, which will also see the country work to completely scrap the requirement to wear a face mask from September 1.

3. France

People in the French capital joyfully ditched their masks on June 17 after the government announced the precaution against the coronavirus pandemic would no longer be mandatory outdoors.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors would be waived, citing advice from public health experts and an easing in the numbers of people in hospital with Covid-19.

However, masks must still be worn in most workplaces, in shops, on public transport, and in outdoor spaces where lots of people are gathered, such as in stadiums.

4. Greece

Greece ended the requirement to wear face masks outdoors on June 24, while also easing other remaining restrictions imposed to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

With infections on the wane, authorities said wearing face masks will remain mandatory in indoor spaces, but not outdoors — except in congested places.

5. Iceland

As of June 26, no Covid restrictions apply in Iceland, said the country's official website for information about the pandemic. Masks are no longer mandatory and neither is social distancing. Limits on the number of people allowed at gatherings have also been lifted.

The North Atlantic country has combatted the Covid-19 outbreak fairly well via a rigorous testing and tracing system, as well as by instituting lockdown measures several times in the last year to curb infection spikes.

“We are restoring the society we are used to living in and which we have longed for,” Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir said on Friday.

6. Spain

Starting June 26, Spaniards were allowed to ditch their face masks as per new rules that permit people to go mask-free outdoors, provided a distance of 1.5 meters can be observed.

It is, however, mandatory to carry a face mask at all times so that it can be put on in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained.

7. Italy

All of Italy went mask-free on June 28, marking a dramatic milestone for the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in February last year.

"It's an encouraging result, but caution and prudence is still needed, especially because of the new variants," Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza stated, after signing the ordinance on Saturday. "The battle is not yet won."

8. South Korea

Those vaccinated with at least one Covid-19 shot in South Korea will be able to put away their masks outdoors from July.

In his statement, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum also said all quarantine measures would be adjusted once more than 70 per cent of residents had received their first dose.

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