BEIJING • The health authorities in China’s capital Beijing have removed a requirement for people to wear masks outdoors, further relaxing rules aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, after the city reported 13 consecutive days without new cases.
Despite the relaxed guidelines, a large proportion of people continued to wear masks in Beijing yesterday. Some said the masks made them feel safer, while others said social pressures to wear masks were also a factor.
“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 a mask,” one 24-year-old Beijing woman surnamed Cao said.
It is the second time Beijing’s health authorities have relaxed guidelines on mask wearing in the capital, which has largely returned to normal after two rounds of targeted lockdowns.
Beijing’s municipal Centres for Disease Control first said residents could go without masks in outdoor areas in late April, but the rules were reversed in June after a new outbreak in the massive Xinfadi wholesale market in the city’s south.
Xinfadi reopened last Saturday, after its business was suspended on June 13. The market will, however, cease its retail business and close its doors to individual consumers, and all sellers and buyers are required to complete real-name authentication before entering.
Since June 11, Beijing has reported 335 cases linked to the Xinfadi cluster. By Aug 6, all of the patients had been discharged after recovery.
China has reported no new locally transmitted cases on the mainland for five days after successfully controlling flare-ups in Beijing, the Xinjiang region and elsewhere.
Experts say the key to the country’s success in controlling the disease has been the strict enforcement of local rules, including wearing masks, mandatory home quarantine and participating in mass testing.
The National Health Commission said yesterday that there were 22 imported cases on the mainland on Thursday. The country has reported a total of 84,917 cases since the outbreak began late last year, and a death toll of 4,634.
CAN OTHERS ACCEPT IT?
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 a mask.
MS CAO, a 24-year-old woman, after Beijing lifted a rule on wearing masks outdoors.