Even with reduced testing, case counts are again climbing in the U.S., so keeping the policy is a prudent move.
Mask, testing and vaccines are all part of a layered approach in protection against the virus.
There is now a huge discrepancy on how differing countries, and even states within countries have fared during the pandemic.
While counting deaths is not everything death rates also give an indication of the other disruptions being experienced especially when testing rates are now so variable. So whilst death rates do not cause the disruptions of covid illness absenteeism, it is the prevalence of covid transmission that causes both the absenteeism and for some unfortunately death.
Currently covid absenteeism is severely affecting air travel out of the UK in peak Easter season meaning some may not even make it to their Easter destination.
The discrepancy on how countries and states have faired, and are now actually fairing, is squarely on how well the multiple layers of protection available were deployed as the risks changed, as the pandemic progressed and actually changed with vaccine availability, new varients, and local changes in transmission rates, both up and down.
Vaccination has now became the single most important layer, whilst lockdowns have disappeared, except in China.
As Covid transmission is very largely airborne there will always be a place for masks in reducing transmission.
We of course can expect mandatory mask wearing to remain in very high risk settings such as operating theatres.
But mandatory mask wearing outdoors has now all but disappeared in the world.
There is a lot of evidence that transmission has occurred in passenger aircraft, even down to seat maps being produced showing where in relation to a single infected person, others who were then infected on were sitting on board.
Here, in NZ, our gathering size and gathering density limits were removed last midnight. Our border reopening to vaccinated tourists is well underway. Now open to Australians, and the bulk of the rest of the world tourists in just over a fortnight.
But masks on public transport and in most indoor settings, remain in the meantime until transmission rates from our recent peak subside further.
Masks are not now required in hospitality venues, evidently pashing on the dance floor with a mask on is not a great experience!!
Perhaps masks will even remain at current settings until after our winter flu season, as local resistance to flu and RSV may have declined due to isolation resulting from previous border controls, and simultaneous covid and flu is a potential problem.