Health officials in China’s capital Beijing on Thursday said that protective masks would no longer be mandatory for citizens outdoors, Reuters reported. Beijing has not reported new coronavirus cases for 13 consecutive days.

The residents of Beijing continued to wear masks on Friday despite the relaxation. A resident told the news agency that social pressure to wear masks was also an important factor. “I think I can take off my mask anytime, but I’ll need to see if others accept it,” a Beijing resident was quoted as saying by Reuters. “Because I’m afraid that people would be scared if they see me not wearing mask.”

The people in Beijing will, however, be required to wear masks if they are stepping outdoors with a companion, according to South China Morning Post.

Health officials in the Chinese capital had allowed the residents to step outside without masks even in April but had reversed the orders in June after the Xinfadi wholesale food market in the city emerged as a coronavirus hotspot.

China reported 22 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. All of the new cases were imported, the National Health Commission said, according to Reuters. Thursday was the fifth consecutive day of China not reporting locally-transmitted cases. The country has reported 89,567 coronavirus cases and 4,709 deaths so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier this week, people in Wuhan – the place where the coronavirus originated – were seen attending an electronic music dance festival at an amusement park without wearing masks and observing proper physical distance. The images sparked concern across the world but the Chinese media claimed that they showed that life in the country was returning to normal. The 76-day-long lockdown in Wuhan was lifted in April.

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