Shanghai Down to “Half Mask”

Riding the elevator of my office building the other day, I suddenly noticed that only half of the people in the elevator had face masks on. I was the only foreigner in the elevator. There were 4 with none on at all (including me), 4 with masks fully on, and one with a mask on, but pulled down to under his chin. This is quite different from only two weeks ago.

Looking around on the street, I see a similar trend… Since face masks are required for riding the subway, you see a lot of mask-wearers on the street coming to and from Shanghai Metro stations. But when you get away from those spots, it’s much closer to half-half. In addition, people are much more likely to be wearing their masks in the morning than in the afternoon, and least likely after dark.

Shanghai: Half Masks
Shanghai residents, July 2020

I’ve been observing who, exactly, is not wearing the masks, and I can’t really see any obvious trend… male/female, young/old, married/single, Chinese/foreigner… The 50/50 trend I seem to be seeing cuts across all the demographics. (I even see old people pushing babies in strollers not wearing masks.)

Obviously, these are just my own observations. I’m fairly observant, but I’m also not keeping records or running stats. But it is nice to see that things slowly returning to closer to “normal,” and it’s very interesting how long many segments of the population are clinging to the masks, long after it seems really necessary (especially compared with what’s going on in the US).

Stay healthy, everyone! 2020 is half over…


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Lantian Says: July 9, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    It’s interesting (and perplexing) to me that the Chinese government, as far as I’m aware, has no real “recommendations” at this point on masks in daily life. Although there are some notices still up, for the most part it seems to be left up to the individual to slowly “let go” of using masks, or to apply some common sense. I’m curious if this is intentional or a lack of diligence/followup/leadership. In contrast, I’m sure Singapore would have something like a notice that they’ve reached a “green” level and you can do ABC with masks now. The U.S., well…science and math doesn’t apply there these days.

  2. […] wrote a post the other day stating that I felt like we were at “half mask” levels in Shanghai, as COVID-related anxiety eases. A few days later, I went on a walk by Zhongshan Park in the […]

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