Comparative masking levels
March 18, 2023 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Where are people still wearing facemasks in public? How do various parts of Europe and Latin America in particular compare with California?

Particularly interested in comparisons between Northern California (SF Bay Area) and:
- Portugal
- Spain
- Mexico
- Argentina

Actual data would be great, but anecdotal evidence is also welcome.
posted by sibilatorix to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Anecdotally, I was in Portugal in December and the Bay Area in January, and very few people were wearing facemasks in public in either place. It would be hard for me to be sure in which place masks were more rare.
posted by escabeche at 2:32 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

I was in Spain back in the autumn, and mask-wearing seemed rare - about the same as here in the UK, so you'd see maybe two or three people using a mask in an average day.
posted by pipeski at 2:41 PM on March 18

I’m in Ontario (but not Toronto) and I would say mask use is around 5%. People don’t harrass me when I wear a mask.
posted by saucysault at 2:45 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]

In Mexico City, I would say close to half of the people are still wearing masks, but there are very few public or private spaces still requiring them.
posted by bricoleur at 3:00 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]

Spent the last 6 months in Spain — Barcelona and Madrid. I saw no real masking efforts in public, except when mandated. For example, on public transport (bus, metro). Spanish airlines enforced it too while flying to/from the country, but non Spanish airlines did not.
posted by socky_puppy at 3:25 PM on March 18

Next to none in London. People wearing masks are notable for how rare they are.
posted by knapah at 3:28 PM on March 18

Haven’t counted, but it seems like Portland OR is at about 5-30 percent depending on where you go and sometimes 100 percent at a handful of places and events that require them.
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:58 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

I visited Spain in September. The only masking I remembered seeing was on public transport. It was mandated at the time (not sure about now). I don't remember seeing anyone wearing masks in restaurants, or on the street, and if I did it was so rare it didn't register. The same goes for tourist attractions and a show I attended.
posted by loveandhappiness at 4:04 PM on March 18

I’m in London. I’m an epidemiologist who wears a mask on public transit. I would say I’m the only mask I see 99% of the time. Maybe 99.9999999% of the time if I’m being nasty/realistic. The UK has a nonexistent relationship with acknowledging the pandemic. If you need to shield, you’re on your own. It’s marginally better in France, Spain, and Italy, where rules about masking on public transit are in varying stages of dissolution without a shred of enforcement.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:10 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]

Just for context as it's referenced above in a couple of answers, masking on public transport is not obligatory in France (as of May 2022), Portugal (as of August 2022), Italy (as of October 2022) or Spain (as of last month, February 2023).
posted by andrewesque at 4:28 PM on March 18

Around 99% wearing masks at my local supermarket yesterday in Tokyo, and around 90-95% outdoors mid-afternoon in my mixed-use neighborhood.

The national government relaxed masking suggestions on Monday (3/13); since then the prime minister has been seen maskless outdoors but the Emperor and Empress were seen masked.
posted by Umami Dearest at 5:04 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]

Zurich- very few people wearing masks, when I see them it’s on public transport.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:14 PM on March 18

I was in Taiwan a few weeks ago and both indoor and outdoor masking are near universal.
posted by potrzebie at 5:30 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]

Chile, hardly anybody wears masks, except for some old, infirm people. Only mandatory in clinics and hospitals.
posted by signal at 5:55 PM on March 18

In Chicago it's a minority but not a tiny one? Like I went to a neighborhood hot dog place for dinner and most of the employees were masking, and of the six other customers who came in while we were there, two were wearing masks. I take public transit at off times and probably 15-20% of bus/train riders are wearing masks. I work way out in the western suburbs and I have a few co-workers who still wear masks, and probably ~10% of the public we serve wear them. I shop at a locally owned grocery store that required masks for a long time and at this point I'd say about a third of the customers still wear them. I never feel weird wearing a mask here.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:27 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]

NW Washington State. I do not mask when I am out for my daily walk/jog, but I go out of my way to avoid other people. Any other time, when I am out running errands, getting gas or groceries, shopping, I am masked 100% of the time. When I'm at the grocery store, I'll see 1 or 2 staff masked, and perhaps 1 other shopper. As a percentage of people in the building, I'd say 2-5%. So many people just DGAF anymore.

As a very rare treat, I will share a high tea at the local tea house with a small group of friends who I know are responsible and fully vaxed/boosted; we all mask up until our food and drinks arrive, and then we unmask to enjoy our meal, and then mask up again for our departure.

Masking is still required in most medical offices, dentists, that sort of thing. But pretty much anywhere else it's getting rarer and rarer to see people masking.

I ran errands the other day, and I got called "a scared little pussy" while getting gas, and "a sheep" while grocery shopping, because I was masked. All in the space of an hour. So that's the mentality that at least a portion of the population 'round here has. Pray for us.
posted by xedrik at 7:55 PM on March 18

Honolulu is a lot like what goodbyewaffles reports for Chicago, but with the added complexity that the tourists are basically not masking at all, while portions of the residents and many public-facing business employees are. My workplace (mostly outdoor) stopped masking except in certain medically-needed areas. I've never had anyone comment on my continuing to mask indoors.
posted by LadyOscar at 8:59 PM on March 18

Cincinnati - saw a few masks at the grocery store today. I performed tonight in a small black box theater and there was a masked woman in the crowd.
posted by mmascolino at 9:07 PM on March 18

You'd have a hard time finding someone wearing a mask in the Netherlands today. Most people who do, are either vulnerable for some reason, or currently going through Covid. We are not even asked to stay home when testing positive anymore. Just while symptomatic, but then it's still just an advice.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:27 AM on March 19

I'm in Central Maryland. Masking depends on context.

Masking tends to be highest in places people are just popping in and out, and no food or drink are being consumed. So grocery stores, drug stores, shops in general. I'd say between 10-20 percent, depending on time of day. Staff don't wear masks, typically.

Masking is 100 percent in places they're required, like doctors offices, and you don't really see people flout it or make a stink anymore. Just sometimes an "eek I forgot my mask!" moment. (I carry extras and offer one.)

Overall is maybe 10 percent, but nobody really comments or gives you weird looks anymore. When mask mandates first dropped, I would definitely get comments, "You don't have to wear that mask anymore" or "It doesn't work anyway."

We mask up in crowd situations, because it's less terrible than being sick.
posted by champers at 3:59 AM on March 19

I spend a fair amount of time in Poland, and mask usage there is practically zero. I maybe see one or two random masks in the course of an outing.
posted by ambulatorybird at 4:16 AM on March 19

What Too-Ticky said is pretty much the case in Sweden as well. In the last six months, I can only think of maybe a dozen people total I've seen wearing masks, and in at least a couple of causes it was colleagues who were recovering from Covid themselves. Nobody seems to care if you wear a mask but it's rare enough to be pretty noticeable.
posted by photo guy at 5:32 AM on March 19

Just for context as it's referenced above in a couple of answers, masking on public transport is not obligatory in France (as of May 2022),

This month they have started announcing on the metro in Paris that it is recommended, but I would still say only 5-10% of people are masking on public transport and less on the street.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:52 AM on March 19

I spent a few days in downtown Toronto for business last week.
I was shocked ,there was almost zero masks being worn. You just didn't see any.
My suburb of Toronto demographics skews older age. Masking at grocery store is still around 25-33 %.
Among the cashiers who face the public it's about 50 %. The people who stock shelves etc don't mask. Younger people have by and large stopped masking.
posted by yyz at 7:33 AM on March 19

Buenos Aires: Only a very few are still making, maybe 1%. Mostly older folks.

No one blinks an eye if you do wear a mask.
posted by ssg at 7:56 AM on March 19

Was in Portugal last month for a week (Lisbon, Algarve). Saw maybe 5 masks total that whole time, and I think they were all on tourists.
posted by hepta at 12:52 PM on March 19

Just back from a weekend in Lisbon, next to no masks. Similar to London.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 6:30 AM on March 20

Was in/around Lisbon and central Portugal over the weekend. Saw maybe 3 or 4 people with masks, all older folks.
posted by 4rtemis at 3:01 PM on March 20

Reporting from Los Angeles county that almost no one here is masking now. I think that once people who were more vulnerable (like people over 75) stopped wearing masks in public, a lot of others stopped too.

Personally, having caught and experienced a mild case of COVID -- despite being fully vaxxed and boosted and wearing a mask faithfully for 2+ years -- definitely decreased my willingness to mask up these days. At this point, since I'm not around especially vulnerable folks most days (I work from home), and since I know I will probably survive it if I catch it again, I no longer have the motivation I once did.
posted by acridrabbit at 5:17 PM on March 20

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