Some Latin American countries have decided to join European nations that have ended the mandatory use of face masks as COVID-19 cases drop across the region and vaccination coverage rates increase.
So far, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay have dropped face mask requirements after two years, and in some Mexican states, the use of face masks is no longer required.
Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga on Monday announced the end of the “state of emergency” in force since 2020 due to COVID-19, although he said the virus “continues to circulate.”
The state of emergency was declared in February 2020 before the first case was confirmed in the country and allowed for the adoption of regulations to deal with the pandemic that will now be gradually repealed.
“The decision recognizes what we are currently experiencing in Brazil,” Queiroga said at a press conference, referring to the decline in coronavirus cases.
Brazil has registered more than 30 million cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 662,000 deaths.
Over 73% of Brazilians have completed the full vaccination cycle against COVID-19, according to health authorities.
Masks have been a political issue in the country since President Jair Bolsonaro spoke frequently against their use and refused to wear them in public even though it was required by law.
Paraguay has approved a decree lifting the mandatory wearing of face masks nationwide, despite being one of the countries in the region with the lowest vaccination rates.
The decision was announced at a press conference by Health Minister Julio Borba after a meeting with President Mario Abdo Benitez.
However, Borba said the Health Ministry may recommend wearing face masks at “certain times.”
Paraguay has reported 648,400 cases of COVID-19 and 18,700 deaths.
As of April 1, only 46% of the population had completed the full two-dose vaccination regimen, according to the Health Ministry.
Earlier this month, Uruguay put an end to the health emergency, meaning that the use of face masks is not mandatory in all places, including public transport.
Uruguay has reported 895,775 coronavirus cases and more than 7,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 80% of the population has completed the vaccination regimen.