As lockdown measures have been lifted across Europe, countries have begun using face masks as a means of halting the transmission of COVID-19. The protective equipment is worn when people venture outside of their homes to use public transport and enter enclosed spaces such as shops and schools.
In Germany, individual states have been given the power to implement their own rules regarding masks. In a similar move, the UK government has allowed the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to enforce their own measures, separate from those issued across England.
Countries have also altered their stance on masks as new studies have shown their effectiveness in reducing transmission rates. The UK previously dismissed the use of masks in their fight against COVID-19 before issuing new guidelines that include them. At the same time, Spain has made face coverings compulsory when social distancing can't be maintained until at least the end of autumn.
CGTN takes a look at the rules regarding face masks in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece as Europe slowly emerges from lockdown and tries to resume a normal life.
Face masks were made compulsory on public transport in all 16 German states back in April. Greece, Spain and Italy have since followed an identical approach. In France and the UK, masks are mandatory on public transport for people over the age of 11.
In Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece, it is compulsory to wear masks inside shops. In the UK, the public has been advised to wear face coverings if social distancing is likely to be compromised, while individual shops in France have the power to make them compulsory - and most have.
Masks are compulsory for teachers and pupils in Germany. In Spain,11-18-year-olds must wear them when 1.5-2 meter distancing can't be maintained. Face covers are not obligatory in UK schools, but teachers have been told to wear them if they are in contact with a child displaying symptoms. In France, masks must be worn by teachers if they're one meter or less away from a child. Schools in Italy are shut until September and rules have yet to be announced. Greek schools have reopened, but face masks aren't compulsory.
Greece, Germany, France and the UK haven't made masks compulsory when outside the home. Local authorities in the Italian region of Lombardy, the region worst hit by COVID-19, have made it illegal for people to walk outside without a mask, but they're not mandatory elsewhere in the country. In Spain, masks must be worn by people socializing outdoors in busy areas and if they're in groups of six or more.
Failure to wear a mask on public transport in the UK will mean passengers will be refused travel and handed a $121 fine, while the same offense will result in a penalty of $113 in Spain, $151 in France, $152 in Greece. Fines differ in severity across Germany, where Bavaria enforces the harshest penalty of $163. In Italy, people will be removed from public transport for flouting face mask rules.