Govt eases facemask-wearing guidelines from today

2023-02-27 03:17     BY Tony Wong    Comment:1

No more facemasks urged for outdoors

The Macau government announced yesterday that from today people are no longer required to wear a facemask outdoors. 

However, according to yesterday’s announcement, public bus and Light Rail Transit (LRT) passengers are still urged to wear a facemask

From today people are no longer advised to wear a facemask in public indoor venues in general either, but the wearing of facemasks is still required for certain indoor venues such as medical institutions, residential care homes for senior citizens, and rehabilitation care homes.

The Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre made the announcement in a statement yesterday.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect Macau in early 2020, the city’s facemask-wearing requirements had merely been implemented in compliance with the Health Bureau’s guidelines, except during a 22-day period last year when the government imposed the mandatory wearing of facemasks on all those who were out and about. The 22-day mandatory wearing of facemasks was implemented when Macau was hit by the 618 outbreak, which referred to the city’s previous COVID-19 outbreak that began on June 18 last year and started to subside in late July. The Macau government was pursuing a dynamic zero-COVID approach when the city was hit by the 618 outbreak.

Macau suffered its first peak of widespread COVID-19 infections around the Christmas holiday resulting from the local government’s decision to abandon its dynamic zero-COVID approach on December 8, but the city’s COVID-19 situation has markedly improved since around the middle of last month. Nevertheless, since then the Macau Health Bureau (SSM) had still been urging everyone in Macau to continue wearing a facemask when they were in public places.

Yesterday’s statement noted that Macau’s COVID-19 situation has continuously remained stable over the past two months, adding that the Macau government has now decided to relax its facemask-wearing requirements accordingly after referencing the COVID-19 prevention and control experience in various countries and regions worldwide.

The statement said that from today, under general circumstances, people are no longer advised to wear a facemask when they are in outdoor places.

Masks still required on public buses, certain indoor venues

However, the statement said, from today those entering medical institutions, residential care homes for senior citizens, or rehabilitation care homes are still required to wear a facemask, except for inpatients and service users living in the care homes.

According to the statement, from today public transport drivers and passengers, except taxis, are also still required to wear a facemask.

Concerning all other public indoor venues and modes of transport, the statement said, the respective government entities overseeing their operations should decide whether to still require those entering the venues or using the modes of transport to wear a facemask after considering various factors, such as Macau’s latest COVID-19 situation, air circulation in the venues or modes of transport, crowd number and density, and the nature and duration of the respective activities.

The statement said that under certain circumstances, such as large-scale events, the occurrence of COVID-19 cluster infections in day nurseries or schools, the occurrence of a peak of COVID-19 infections in Macau, the respective organisers or government entities overseeing their operations should require those entering the premises to wear a facemask.

In addition, the statement said, those who have come down with a fever, muscle pain, sore throat, cough, runny nose, or other flu-like symptoms should also wear a facemask when out and about.

However, the statement stressed, in general those aged three or below are exempted from wearing a facemask anywhere.

The statement underlined that the Macau government will adjust its facemask-wearing guidelines for public indoor venues in compliance with the city’s latest COVID-19 situation.

The statement advised people in Macau to carry facemasks with them when out and about so that they can put them on if necessary. In addition, the statement said, they should also keep enough facemasks at home sufficient for at least two weeks in case of emergency needs, the statement said.

The statement also said that those who have come down with symptoms indicating possible COVID-19 infection, such as a fever, muscle pain, sore throat, cough, or runny nose, should self-test with a rapid antigen test (RAT) kit, or visit medical institutions for a nucleic acid test (NAT).

No more masks for school classes

Meanwhile, the Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ) announced in a statement yesterday that from today school teachers and students are no longer required to wear a facemask in classes or when engaging in other activities, such as participating in inter-school sports and other competitions.

However, the statement said that teachers and students are still required to wear a facemask when catching a school bus. 

Pedestrians – most of them still wearing facemasks – cross Avenida de Sidónio Pais near Flora Garden yesterday. – Photo: MPDG

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