In what could be seen as the removal of the last visible signs of the pandemic, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) changed the rule at the end of last month.
It means that visitors or patients arriving at the hospital no longer need to wear a face covering before they can enter, although certain clinical areas, such as the respiratory ward, will still require people to mask up.
A similar change is being made at the Trust’s sister hospital in Maidstone.
A spokesperson for MTW told the Times: “Masks are still required in some clinical areas of our hospitals. Visitors to respiratory or immunosuppressed patients are encouraged to wear masks.
“In all other areas, visitors, patients and staff can continue to wear masks if they wish to do so.”
The move comes despite rising levels of infection from Covid-19 in the UK.
Last week, rates in Tunbridge Wells rose to around 235 per 100,000 of the population according to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), which is continuing to monitor infection levels across the UK.
Those sort of levels of the virus are as high as during the first wave of the pandemic when Tunbridge Wells along with the rest of the county locked down in March 2020.
The latest wave is being driven by the newer variants BA.4 and BA.5, which now make up more than half of all new Covid-19 cases in England.
Across the UK, a total of 10,658 patients were in hospital as of July 4, the highest number since April but is still some way below the record high of the 34,336 patients recorded in January 2021.