STA, 13 April 2022 - Masks will no longer be mandatory in public spaces as of Thursday under a government decision that keeps the mask mandate only in hospital and care facilities. Mask use is still recommended, especially for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
The government advisory group for Covid-19 initially proposed that the mask mandate be lifted once the total number of Covid patients in intensive care units drops below 35 for seven consecutive days, which trends suggest would have happened in about a week.
The government has however decided to speed things along given that Covid has been in retreat for some time. ICU cases have been below 35 for two days now.
The mask mandate was the only major restriction still in place, but even that has already been loosened since it was waived for schools in early March.
The mask mandate was first introduced in March 2020 and save for a brief intermission in June the same year the restriction has been in place to varying degrees since then.
At one points masks were mandatory outdoor as well, a measure that proved hugely unpopular.
Infectious diseases specialist Bojana Beović and Milan Krek, the head of the National Institute of Public Health, said today masks have been one of the key public health measures during the pandemic.
Without masks the figures would have been far worse, especially before vaccines were available in sufficient quantities, Krek stressed.