Mask requirements around the World

Written by: U-Earth Store



Time to read 3 min

Wearing a face covering has become a given during the pandemic but what are the mask requirements around the world? What rules are there on wearing a face covering abroad? We have done some research on mask rules and the results are extremely interesting.

Mask requirements around the world - headline figures

The headline figures for mask requirements around the world are as follows with figures and statistics taken from 198 countries or territories.

  • 175 countries or territories recommend wearing face masks;

  • 23 countries or territories do not recommend wearing face masks;

  • 6 countries or territories have universal mask usage;

  • 19 countries have a mask requirement (at least in businesses) in parts of the country;

  • 139 countries or territories have a mask requirement (at least in businesses) across the full jurisdiction;

  • 92 countries or territories have a mask requirement everywhere in public.

The official advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) is for everybody, even those fully vaccinated, to continue to wear a mask as the highly-contagious delta variant of Covid-19 continues to spread, causing outbreaks.

A majority of countries insist on wearing masks everywhere in public

Mask rules are constantly changing but with almost 50% of countries or territories still insisting on wearing masks everywhere in public, it is clear that Covid-19 has not gone away despite the vaccine.

Those countries or territories that do recommend wearing face masks but do not have a mask requirement everywhere in public often have the recommendation to either wear them in all indoor spaces or when traveling on public transport.

Countries that don’t recommend wearing a face covering

Sweden and Australia are perhaps the most high-profile countries to not recommend wearing masks though Australia does require masks to be worn in parts of the country. Other countries which haven’t explicitly recommended wearing masks are often war-torn areas including Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan, or island nations such as Tuvalu, Nauru, Comoros and the Marshall Islands.

Mask rules in the USA and Asia

The USA has mask rules that vary on a state-by-state basis with some states insisting on a mask requirement (at least in businesses) while others only have mask rules that apply to parts of the state. 39 states insist on masks across the entire territory, 10 states insist on masks across parts of the territory while only one, South Dakota, has no mask requirement at all.

Historically Asian countries have been much more likely to wear masks before the pandemic, primarily for health reasons when feeling ill (out of courtesy for others) or to protect themselves from poor air quality and air pollution. The 6 countries or territories that have universal mask usage are all in Asia - Malaysia, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Most other Asian countries insist on wearing masks everywhere in public.

Masks aren’t going away any time soon

Countries across Europe including France, Germany and Spain continue to have a mask requirement throughout the country and most of Europe recommends the wearing of masks with Belarus the only other outlier alongside Sweden.

Despite headlines in newspapers declaring that we can ‘return to normality soon’ it is clear that mask requirements around the world will still be in place for a while yet. Despite a large vaccination program, many countries are still yet to have begun vaccinating most of their population while there is still widespread reluctance in some countries to receive a vaccine. As such, Covid-19 variants will continue to spread for quite some time making mask rules even more likely to stick around. 

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Data taken from Mask4All