Table 4

Snapshot of personal protective equipment requirements implemented in six Asian countries

IndonesiaSingaporeSouth KoreaThailandThe PhilippinesVietnam
Wearing of face masks for general populationFace masks became compulsory in April 2020, and during earlier stages of this requirement, the government urged the use of cloth masks in order to preserve surgical masks and N95 masks for health workers. A range of penalties both monetary and non-monetary was implemented and enforced by the police and military.The population was advised to wear face masks only when unwell in January 2020. This advisory changed to mandatory face mask wearing from April 2020 with a fine of US$220 levied for non-compliance at the first instance and US$740 for repeated offences. Only under circumstances such as strenuous exercise or eating can face masks be removed. Safe Distancing Officers are employed by the government to enforce these rules.Wearing of face masks was recommended on public transport in May 2020 but made mandatory in all public spaces in October 2020 after a sustained surge in infections was experienced. In July 2021, mask requirements were relaxed for fully vaccinated individuals but subsequently suspended after resurgence in infected caseloads.There was early voluntary adoption of mask-wearing during the first wave and cloth masks were recommended to preserve surgical and N95 masks for health workers. In April 2021, wearing of face masks turned mandatory and a monetary penalty was enforced for non-compliance under the Communicable Diseases Act.Mandatory mask mandate for all that are in public spaces was enacted in April 2020 but amidst rising infections and overwhelmed hospital systems in August 2020, compulsory face shield use was enforced as a further precaution against COVID-19. Towards the end of 2021, face shield requirements were lifted as vaccination rates increased and infections stabilised.During the earlier stages of the pandemic, face masks were compulsory for those out in public and those who did not comply were slapped with steep fines. Cultural and environmental factors have led to high adherence rates throughout the pandemic as wearing of face masks were commonplace even before the pandemic.