Is it mask on or mask off?

Keep track of the safety protocols around the region while travelling for business.

For many people, wearing a mask is no longer a burden after two years of compliance.
For many people, wearing a mask is no longer a burden after two years of compliance. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/BlackSalmon

To wear or not to wear? As Covid restrictions ease and borders reopen, this will become a new concern for travellers as a growing number of Asian countries start to ditch their face mask policies in more settings.

In Singapore, where there was a strict mask mandate in place for the past two years, it is no longer mandatory to wear masks in outdoor places since the country eased many pandemic rules on 26 April. However, people are still required to wear masks in indoor settings although there is no longer any limit on group sizes. Safe distancing is also no longer needed between individuals or between groups.

Similarly, Cambodia has also lifted its mask mandate for open public places on 26 April. Mask wearing is still mandatory in indoor public areas, including air-conditioned buildings and crowded places such as theatres.

Under Malaysia's new Covid-19 rules, the wearing of face masks is no longer required outside buildings and in open spaces since 1 May. Face masks are required while indoors and public transport vehicles, as well as in crowded open spaces such as bazaars.

South Korea, which is the first country to reopen its borders in North Asia, has also progressively eased its pandemic measures. Starting 2 May, South Korea’s outdoor mask mandate has been lifted but the rule to wear a face mask in enclosed spaces remains in place. Outdoor subway station platforms and amusement parks are considered outdoor, while public transportation services such as buses, subways and trains, are part of the indoor mask mandate.

Hong Kong is also easing its Covid-related rules as the city gradually reopens travel. From 5 May, beaches and pools are allowed to reopen and restaurants will be allowed to seat eight people at a table, and mask-wearing is optional during outdoor exercises. Come 19 May, bars and clubs will also be allowed to reopen while the cruise ban will be lifted.

Although the mask policy is coming off, it is still common for people across Asia to don face masks in outdoor settings for various reasons. Some people find it inconvenient to put them on and off again as they commute, while others continue to wear them to protect themselves or their loved ones.

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