time to explore with esplora

Malta’s mask-wearing rules strictest in EU

Malta’s mask-wearing rules strictest in EU

As you may have heard or read, as of tomorrow, mask-wearing both indoors and outdoors, whether alone or with others, will be made mandatory, announced the health minister Chris Fearne. The legal notice displaying the new rules and outlining fines, if any, has has not yet been published.

This measure means that the country is set to have the strictest rules in the whole European Union with regards to mask-wearing outside, according to a Times of Malta analysis. The only other country in the bloc that is requiring citizens to mask up wherever they are is Cyprus. That being said, the public in Cyprus is allowed to go mask-free outdoors if alone or in pairs.

Despite backlash following the announcement, Fearne has defended the restriction, saying that it is a way to contain COVID-19 amid rising numbers, especially when considering that Malta is expecting its first Omicron variant cases in the coming weeks.

Health Minister Chris Fearne

Let’s compare the rest of Europe

Let’s circle back to Cyprus. Here, masks are mandatory outdoors for everyone over the age of six, in groups of more than two people. Found without a mask? €300 fine.

Italy. In areas considered to be yellow zones, which at the time of writing only includes the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, mask-wearing is mandatory both indoors and outdoors at all times. The rest of Italy remains a white zone. The capital city of Rome, however, also put in place a temporary outdoor mask mandate until 31 December to reduce the risk.

In Spain, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic all require mask-wearing outdoors, but only in crowded places. Typically, this means that people must wear masks if they cannot maintain social distancing, ranging from one to 1.5 metres from other people. Many of the countries specify that masks should be worn outdoors in crowded areas, such as markers, waiting outside buildings or during public demonstrations.

Other member states focus their mask-wearing rules in closed public spaces and transport. Some countries, including Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria, specify that masks should be FFP2 face-masks.

What about the research?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every law-maker should take a risk-based approach when considering mask-use for their populations. In areas of suspected community clusters or virus transmission, the WHO advises that people wear non-medical masks indoors and outdoors, where social distancing cannot take place.

The WHO also recommends that people with a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 should wear medical masks in any setting where physical distance cannot be maintained.

What do you think?