Beijing lifts orders requiring people to wear masks outdoors

But some citizens in Chinese capital say will continue wearing face coverings for now

Tim Wyatt
Friday 21 August 2020 17:45 BST
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus in the central business district in Beijing
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus in the central business district in Beijing (AP)

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Residents of Beijing no longer have to wear masks outdoors, in a further sign of China’s success at suppressing coronavirus.

Health authorities in the city have relaxed rules which previously made it mandatory to cover your face when outside your home after 13 days in a row with no new cases of Covid-19.

The rules on masks have previously been lifted before in April, although a second lockdown was then imposed to control a new outbreak of the virus in June.

It is not just the capital which is seeing progress in eradicating coronavirus – China has reported no new locally-transmitted infections on its mainland territory for five days.

Analysts say strict enforcement of local lockdowns has been behind China’s success in the pandemic, including mandatory mask wearing, mass testing and in places enforced home quarantines.

Although there have not been any reports of locally derived cases, there were 22 new imported cases of Covid-19 reported on Thursday. Most non-Chinese citizens are now being barred for entering the country.

The relaxing of the mask ordnance in the capital is the latest sign China appears to be gradually returning to normal.

Earlier this week pictures of thousands of people in Wuhan – the city where the pandemic began – cramming into a water park, unmasked and not socially distancing, went viral online.

Many in the West expressed astonishment that lockdown measures were being rolled back in the country where coronavirus first erupted, while many other nations are seeing case numbers and deaths rise.

Despite the easing of restrictions in Beijing, some residents said they would continue to mask up for the time being.

Some said they would feel safer if they carried on wearing masks, while others feared social opprobrium if they appeared in public to not be taking others’ health seriously.

“I think I can take off my mask anytime, but I’ll need to see if others accept it. Because I’m afraid that people would be scared if they see me not wearing mask,” one 24-year old Beijing woman who gave her name as Cao told the Reuters news agency.

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