It's masks off in South Africa for now and we are not alone

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Globally, wearing masks in public areas is becoming a thing of the past.
Globally, wearing masks in public areas is becoming a thing of the past.
Westend61

It's been more than two years of masks, limitations at funerals and parties, churches going online, then changing to face-to-face with limited numbers. 

Now it's all gone. Shoppers will be able to see each other's faces, colleagues will smile across cubicles at one another and security at airports will no longer have to ask you to lower your mask so they scan your passport. 

For most, it's a relief as they will finally be able to walk around free while others are a little worried about Covid-19 still. 

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla gazetted the new regulations on Wednesday and by Thursday, South Africans were mask free in taxis and shops. This follows a decline in Covid-19 reported cases, hospitalisations and reported deaths.

Read more | 750 days of lockdown – the good, the bad and the bizarre

We are not the first country in the world, or even Africa to do away with masks. 

Here are nine countries that scrapped the mask mandate 

Ghana 

In March 2022 Ghana became one of the first countries on the continent to end its mandatory requirement to wear face masks in public. In a televised address on 27 March, president Nana Akufo-Addo announced that for the fully vaccinated, outdoor functions can resume, and travelers no longer have to take Covid-19 tests to enter the country, among other changes.

Saudi Arabia 

Earlier in June Saudi Arabia lifted its mask mandate for indoor spaces. According to Aljeezera, the move comes as the country's kingdom prepares to welcome around 850,000 pilgrims from abroad to participate in the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Rwanda 

The country has had one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in Africa. In May, Rwanda scrapped the face-mask requirement in public, easing its strict coronavirus restrictions.

Switzerland 

As of April 2022, Switzerland become one of the many countries in Europe that have eased most of the Covid-19 restrictions. 

France 

From May 2022 France Health Minister Olivier Véran announced face masks will no longer be required on trains, planes, and metros. France began easing its strict face mask rules in February after a winter surge in cases, according to France24

Namibia 

Namibia became the fourth country in Africa to no longer require masks to be worn in public. President Hage Geingob also announced that negative PCR tests for vaccinated visitors are no longer required. 

Kenya

Kenya scrapped the mandatory wearing of face masks in March 2022. The announcement came as rates of Covid-19 infections in the East African country dropped, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe announced.

Read more | Nurse urges parents to make sure kids vaccinated as City of Tshwane, Gauteng warn of measles outbreak

USA

There are no longer any states requiring people to wear masks in public places. As of April 2022The US Transportation Security Administration stopped enforcing the mask mandate and major US airlines made face-covering optional on domestic flights.

The Maldives

The luxurious travel destination joined the growing list of countries that have removed all Covid-19 related restrictions for travellers and residents. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced on 13 March 2022 that all Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. 

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