Face Mask Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts When You’re Out In Public

Wear it right.

While the spread of Coronavirus in our country can’t rely on individual persons alone, it’s still important to protect yourself and others you come in contact with whenever you need to step out of your homes. 

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More and more cases of the COVID-19 are being reported by the Department of Health and with the lockdown restrictions now easing up, people are being tempted–if not required–to go out. Travel bans are being lifted, restaurants, shops, and malls are now open like it used to be…it’s as if catching the virus isn’t possibly fatal at all.

The medical community believes that the primary mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through respiratory droplets. So, the best way to protect yourself and the people around you is to wear a mask. However, there have been plenty of instances where people wear their masks barely above their noses or dining out and having their masks taken off.

It seems that there needs to be a reminder in order for us to remember that each time we talk or cough, or come closer than two meters from each other (like going to a store, walking on the sidewalk, and using public transportation), there’s still a chance to spread the virus unknowingly.

So, if you want to help contain the virus even if you have to step out, this face mask etiquette should be your guide on what to do or should not do while you are out in public:

The face mask should cover your nose and mouth

Photo via @avamax

Social distancing is our most effective public health strategy, but in situations where you can’t maintain that, like going to a grocery store, wearing a mask lets you keep your droplets to yourself. However, it is useless if your face mask is under your chin or below your nostrils. Whenever you pass by someone less than six feet away, you’re still potentially spreading the virus or catching it yourself. Act as if you caught the virus so that in case you are asymptomatic, you’re not contaminating other people.

Wear it even if you’re at a safe distance from other people

Photo via @arianagrande

Think of mask-wearing as a social ritual and sign of human respect. Wearing a mask fosters a sense of faith, a shared or mutual obligation, and civic duty. This brings together people faced with a common threat and helps them mitigate one of the secondary dangers posed by an epidemic, which is the breakdown of social norms. Wearing a face mask gives a sense of unity because it helps other people to feel comforted when they see everybody doing their all to contain the spread of the virus.

If you’re using a disposable face mask, cut it in half after usage

As odd and far out as this may sound, there have been reports saying that used face masks are being washed, reused, or resold after being thrown out to the trash. (It is 2020 after all, what isn’t the least bit shocking these days?) To help prevent this, do not throw your face mask in public trash bins, or better yet, cut it in half to be sure that it will not be reused.

Do not share face masks

Photo via @avamax

This one is pretty obvious. Do not share your face mask as it is unhygienic and already contaminated with your droplets.

Refrain from eating or drinking outside as much as possible

Every time you take that mask off, you put yourself and everyone at risk. Drinking and eating in public spaces may be inevitable for some, but those of us who have a choice should try our best not to dine in restaurants or eat while at a public place. This is the most considerate thing you can do for others who have to be out there, too.

Just think about it this way: if everyone wore a face mask correctly and knew how to act in public places, maybe then, we’ll have a chance of containing the virus. That, and with the help of mass testing and transparency from our government (hopeful against all hope), will truly help ease everyone’s worries.