Passengers wear masks on the subway in Beijing on March 30. ZHU ZHENQIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY
China's top disease control authorities clarified on Wednesday that people do not need to wear masks in outdoor spaces and workplaces, on campuses and when working out.
The National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control released the latest mask use protocol on Wednesday evening, at a time when the waning COVID-19 epidemic has caused confusion among the public and different requirements from localities.
The administration said that mask use is no longer compulsory in situations where the risk of the virus' spread is very low — such as in parks, public squares and regular workplaces — or where the transmission risk can be effectively contained — such as when all participants of a large conference or event are required to take nucleic acid or rapid antigen tests, and monitor their own health condition.
Infants aged three and under, teachers and students on campus and individuals who are exercising can also stop wearing masks, it said.
Regarding the hotly discussed rule of mask use on the subway, trains and other public transportation, the administration said that mask use is recommended in these indoor spaces with large gatherings and population movement. Such facilities also include supermarkets, cinemas and bus stations.
In addition, the elderly, people with chronic diseases and pregnant women are also advised to put on a mask before entering indoor public spaces.
Mask use will still be required for individuals who have tested positive or are experiencing fever, coughing and other telltale symptoms, and those whose residential places or communities are seeing outbreaks.
People who visit hospitals, elderly care and social welfare centers, as well as medical, catering, cleaning and security staff at these venues and education institutions are also required to wear masks.
China downgraded management of the novel coronavirus from Class A to B on Jan 8 and declared a decisive victory over the virus in mid-February.
"Currently, the COVID-19 epidemic in China is seeing sporadic cases scattered in different regions, but as the pandemic status remains and the virus is constantly mutating, the risk of seeing a virus resurgence still exists," said the administration.
It said that the new protocol is aimed at ensuring disease control strength while minimizing impact on normal lives and production.