China lifts mask mandate for outdoor venues, offices and schools

China has removed all but a few mask mandates, including for outdoor venues, workplaces, and schools, some of the few places facial coverings were still being required.

Masks will still need to be worn in hospitals and nursing homes, or when people have tested positive for COVID-19 or are displaying relevant symptoms. Chinese health authorities explained that people are advised to put on face masks when using public transport and entering supermarkets, movie theaters, and other indoor places with large gatherings.

According to stated media Xinhua News Agency, the guidelines from the joint COVID-19 prevention and control mechanism of the State Council were updated on Wednesday, aiming to clarify situations and circumstances where people should, can choose to, or may choose not to wear face masks.

Macau ended the outdoor face mask requirement at the end of February (February 27th). The requirement for a face mask was introduced previously to counter the spread of COVID, this measure was also discontinued for some types of indoor venues, including schools and casinos.

Macau cancelled, with effect from January 8th, most of its pandemic-related travel restrictions, dropping all testing requirements for inbound travelers from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The authorities on the Chinese mainland also substantially eased from January 8th travel restrictions with Hong Kong and Macau, with most COVID controls scrapped.

However, both Macau and mainland China are likely battling a growing influenza outbreak, as cases spike across the country, leading to class suspensions at primary schools, as fears grow of another pandemic just as the country emerges from three years of COVID.