Face masks are today the must-have item in every household, and with the ongoing changes faced across the globe, they seem to remain around us for a while. But does everyone know where and how face masks must be worn?
Face masks should be worn in enclosed spaces where maintaining the two-meter social distance is hard to keep or simply can’t be applied.
With few exceptions, members of the public are required to wear a face mask when:
- Shopping – supermarkets and any other shops
- When eating out – in a pub, restaurant, or fast food
- At the coffee shops
- At the hairdresser or barbershop
- In libraries and museums
- When travelling by plane(in the airport and on the aeroplane)
- Whilst using public transport, taxis
- At the doctor’s
- When working in small, enclosed offices/spaces
- On the school corridors
- When car-sharing with a colleague
- When visiting the elderly
- To attend a worship place
- To weddings or funerals (no more than 15 persons invited)
- If social distancing can not be followed
In some countries, like Spain, people must wear face masks everywhere in public. This means that as soon as someone leaves their home, be it super hot, cold, or rain, the mask should cover the face properly (over both nose and mouth). High penalties are given to anyone without a face mask and even when the mask is not properly worn.
Children under five are not required to wear face masks. However, some parents prefer to use custom-made masks to protect the whole family, especially when someone is extremely vulnerable to viruses.
How to wear a face mask
A face mask should be worn to protect people that come in contact with a person that has a viral infection. The face mask will be a barrier against droplets from an infected person’s mouth or nose.
Regardless of the material used in making a certain face mask (disposable or multiple uses), the mask should cover the mouth and the nose of the wearer completely. The mask should be appropriate in size, fit the wearer’s face, and be securely attached. It also needs to be made of breathable material for good respiratory comfort.
The face mask should be put on before entering a space where a face covering is required and only taken off after leaving the building or if necessary.
In some cases, to help a discussion, a person might need to remove the face mask. For example, when talking to a deaf person or someone who uses lip reading for legal or translation purposes.
In most of the educational settings, teachers aren’t required to wear protective masks to avoid confusion and ease comprehension of the subject taught.
Wearing a face mask is not always easy:
- If the material is too thick and it’s hard to breathe, any activities will feel like enormous tasks
- When the temperature is high, sweat can accumulate
- After a while, the back of the ears and the nose bridge will feel sore
- Glasses are steaming, and the eyes will feel sore, with a burning sensation
- In the rain, the mask can get wet and will become impractical
Making sure that you avoid feeling uncomfortable whilst wearing the face-covering should be one of the most important aspects when you decide to buy face masks on top of their suitability in relation to viral infections such as Covid-19, Sars, Flu, etc.
How to choose a face mask
The utility should overcome the desire to be fashionable. Keeping in mind that we need to protect people around us against these viruses when choosing a face covering, we should look at the following:
- Size – according to the facial shape
- How secure it attaches to the wearer
- The number of layers (minimum 2)
- How thick the material is – for breathability
- Durability – materials used
- Disposable or multiple uses
- How easy is it to dispose of
It is very important to remember how to handle and dispose of a worn face mask. Remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you sanitize or wash your hands. Take off a worn mask by grabbing the handles used to attach over the ears, avoid touching its surface, and dispose of it in a bin if the case or placed in the washing machine (multiple uses – cotton/fabric masks only).
Cross-contamination is avoided, and the environment is respected and kept clean for generations to come.