Unmasked: Beijing Scraps Mask Rules in 'Safe' Public Areas

By Joshua Cawthorpe, May 19, 2020

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Masks are no longer required to be worn by Beijing residents in public places that are deemed ‘safe,’ namely well-ventilated outdoor environments where social distancing can be practiced. This milestone of recovery in the fight against COVID-19 was announced on Sunday by the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control. 

The statement was promptly followed by a clear reminder from authorities that masks play an important role in the prevention and spread of respiratory infections. It is suggested that Beijing residents keep a mask on hand, because medium- to low-risk areas will continue to require them as China cautiously evaluates its steps towards normality. These areas include elevators, shopping malls, public transport and anywhere that people might stray within one meter of your breathing room.

Globally, the number of confirmed cases continues to grow, but China has successfully reduced the number of active infections to an all-time low. According to Xinhua, only six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed across the country on May 19, of which only one was in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

A strong symbol of recovery will be the convening of the Two Sessions later this week, with the meeting of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) and the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The NPC is the country’s top legislature and the annual session has been delayed for over two months while China battled to contain its COVID-19 outbreak.

Starting on May 18, delegates from around the world attended the 73rd World Health Assembly virtually as confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise menacingly around the globe. In contrast, the nearly 3,000 members of the 13th NPC will meet, in-person, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

It appears that other major cities in China are following Beijing’s example as current prevention and control measures continue to prove effective. GRT Radio reported on May 18 that the first wave of group tours to Qingyuan, Foshan and Jiangmen in Guangdong resumed on Sunday, with local tourism companies permitted to open for business, provided that epidemic prevention and control measures are followed.

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Image via @宝晶宫生态旅游度假区/Weibo

We kindly remind our readers to stay safe and healthy. The decision to relax the rules about wearing masks is made possible by further relying on the other methods of prevention like regular hand washing, sterilizing commonly used items and, of course, maintaining safe social distancing practices.

READ MORE: Student Deaths Lead Chinese Schools to Change Mask Rules

[Cover image via Pexels]

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