EFEMadrid Desk

A number of European countries are moving towards ending the mandatory use of face masks as Covid-19 cases drop across the continent and vaccine schemes pick up speed.

In France, face masks will no longer be mandatory outdoors starting Thursday.

Masks will only be required on public transport, in stadiums and other crowded areas. The curfew will also be lifted from June 20.

Austria announced Thursday it would lift mandatory use of face masks both indoors and outdoors from July 1.

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez said Wednesday that he was confident the mandatory use of face masks would be dropped “soon” thanks to the vaccine rollout in the country reaching “cruising speed” after a record of 3.5 million doses were administered last week.

Spain’s coronavirus incidence rate is the lowest it has been since August 2020.

In Belgium, the mandatory use of face masks outdoors, with the exception of busy shopping streets, ended on June 9 after a drop in hospitalizations and increase in vaccinations.

Germany has also called for ending its face masks rule in regions with declining coronavirus infection rates but the changes have yet to be confirmed.

Some 40 million people in Germany have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine accounting for nearly 50% of the population.