The mask is slipping. After two years of hidden faces and muffled conversations, mask rules are being discarded around the world.
Most of Britain ditched the divisive face covering back in January, sparking something of a domino effect. Norway and Denmark quickly followed suit, as did a clutch of Eastern European countries. Reticent Scotland joined the club this week, and the US is now mask-free (including, thanks to the invention of a Florida judge, on planes and trains).
Elsewhere, rules have been significantly eased. In France, for example, where masks were once required even in outdoor settings, they are now only needed on public transport and in hospitals. The same rules now apply in Spain and Portugal too.
But not every nation is so keen to abandon face coverings. Greece, for example, will demand masks in most indoor settings until at least June 1. Italy still requires them to be worn in all indoor public places – though there have been suggestions that this may change in May.
In Austria, FFP2 masks are still compulsory in some public spaces, such as supermarkets. Wearing a medical-grade mask remains a legal requirement in retail outlets and on public transport in Germany, depending on the region you visit. In Turkey, while they have been dropped in settings with sufficient space and ventilation, such as restaurants, they remain in more tightly-packed venues like cinemas and concert halls, as well as on public transport.
Beyond Europe, masks are still widespread, with Egypt, Morocco, Thailand, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Cuba, St Lucia and Barbados among the holiday hotspots that retain strict rules.
So for those hoping to have a completely mask-free holiday, what are the options? Here’s our comprehensive guide.
No masks whatsoever*
What is it about the Nordic nations? All have been reticent to restrict their citizens’ freedoms for the duration of the pandemic – with Sweden famously eschewing lockdowns altogether and its neighbours only shutting down society for a brief period – and all five have now scrapped masks.
Elsewhere, Eastern European countries have also been quick to return to normal – something that was predicted when Telegraph Travel quizzed a clutch of experts earlier in the year.
- Czech Republic
While the below list is not exhaustive – the latest rules can be tricky to come by and we have focused our research on popular holiday destinations – nations beyond Europe have been far slower to scrap their mask rules.
- Dominican Republic
*With the possible exception of hospitals and care homes.
Masks only on public transport**
Beyond healthcare facilities, it seems that trains, planes and buses will be the final settings where masks still roam. France and Spain are among the countries retaining their use on public transport.
**As well as hospitals and care homes.
What about on planes?
Rules vary according to your airline, but many are now scrapping mask rules too.
EasyJet no longer requires face coverings on flights between England, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Isle of Man, Denmark, Finland, Croatia, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, Gibraltar, Switzerland, Hungary, Iceland and Poland, as all of these countries have scrapped their domestic mask rules.
BA and Virgin have similar policies, and this week both confirmed that masks will no longer be needed for passengers on transatlantic flights.
Jet2 and Tui have scrapped all mask requirements, although Ryanair is still requiring them (its chief executive has signalled that this will end in the coming weeks).