Cyprus and Qatar have become the latest countries around the world to make the decision to reinstate their face mask mandates – and the wildly popular destination Thailand could become the next country to join them. Whilst it seemed that the world had turned a corner months ago with regards to Covid-19, as entry restrictions and requirements around the world began to be eased and travel took off once more, it seems that a rise in cases could lead to countries throwing up their barriers once more.
Whilst it may be just masks for now – and not the reintroduction of other restrictions such as testing requirements or vaccine passports – travelers will be hoping that one move doesn’t lead to the other. Here’s a look at Cyprus and Qatar’s decisions to bring back their mask mandates, which situations the wearing of masks will be required and why Thailand looks set to join them in the coming weeks.
Cyprus Reintroduces Mask Mandate – Information For Travelers
One of the largest islands in the Mediterranean sea, Cyprus has attracted travelers for many years due to its clear waters, sandy beaches and rugged natural landscapes. The country removed all of its Covid-19 related entry restrictions on June 1st, and travelers enjoyed smooth, easy access from that date as a result. However, just yesterday it was announced that Cyprus would be bringing back its mask mandate, doing so at a time when other countries across Europe are also considering the move.
The Cypriot government stated that compulsory mask wearing in indoor areas would be brought back for everyone aged 12, with the change in policy set to go live from Friday 8th July. The reason behind the move is a high proportion of positive test results; the country’s Health Ministry stated that 19,503 people tested positive out of a total of 147,623 samples between June 25th and July 5th. Those who flout the ban could face a fine of €300 ($305).
Qatar Bring Back Masks – What Travelers Should Know
Cyprus isn’t the only country to bring back its mask wearing policies this week, with Qatar also getting in on the act. The tiny Middle Eastern nation, which is set to hold the world’s largest sporting event in the shape of the FIFA World Cup from November, had also eased some of its Covid-19 related entry requirements earlier in the year as the Covid-19 situation improved across the country. However, it is set to become the latest country to bring back its mask mandate – though probably not the last.
Following a meeting of the Qatari Cabinet yesterday, the country’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that the wearing of face masks would become mandatory for all individuals aged six years of age and older in closed public spaces, with the new rule starting from Thursday 7th July. That means that the wearing of masks is now required in venues such as mosques, healthcare facilities, workplace, public transport, gyms, malls, shops and cinemas. Like with Cyprus, the decision has been made following a spike in cases, with a rolling average of 650 per day now being reported.
Is Thailand Next?
Once home to the world’s most visited city in Bangkok, the pandemic saw the number of travelers visiting Thailand nosedive as a result of strict entry requirements that made visiting the country a chore compared to others. Yet whilst the country dropped all of its entry requirements on July 1st, the Land of Smiles looks like it could be set to bring one of its least popular restrictions back – the wearing of face masks.
Spooked by the rapid spread of the highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Covid-19, several prominent doctors in the country have called for the government to reimpose its mask mandate in an effort to help stop the spread of the virus. Whilst many Thais continue to wear masks regardless of the mandate ending, the practice isn’t popular amongst tourists – and a reintroduction of the policy could turn many travelers against the idea of visiting the country. The issue is expected to be discussed at the next meeting of the country’s Covid-19 taskforce at the end of the week.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com