Austria, Germany, France to Ban Cloth Masks to Slow Spread of New Covid Strains

By Paul Riegler on 24 January 2021
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A vintage streetcar in Vienna, Austria

Multiple European countries are banning cloth face masks in an attempt to stem the spread of new, more transmissible strains of the coronavirus.

Bundeskanzler Angela Merkel announced new requirements for face masks worn in public last week, mandating medical-grade masks and forbidding ordinary cloth ones.  The rules apply to public transportation, in shops and other similar businesses, and in all workplaces.

Germany will send vouchers for 12 FFP-2 masks to all 34.1 million citizens, and Bundesgesundheitsminister Jens Spahn said that there is no indication that the country will face production bottlenecks for such amsks.

Starting Monday, Austria, which extended its lockdown into February, will mandate FFP2 masks in shops and on public transportation.

The French government followed suit and now mandates that citizens and visitors wear single-use surgical-grade FFP1 masks or the more protective FFP2 filtering facepiece respirators or fabric masks which meet the same requirements blocking a minimum of 90% of particles in all public settings including shops. Homemade masks will no longer be permitted.

Cloth masks offer insufficient outflowing protection when compared to any form of medical-grade mark, which is why physicians and other healthcare workers wear them around patients and when in public.

While cloth masks may be better than any protection at all, they aren’t sufficient protection against the new coronavirus variants, France’s health advisory council is saying.

“We are not questioning the masks used up to now, but as we don’t have any new weapons against the new strains, the only thing we can do is to improve the weapons we already have,” Daniel Camus, a member of the council, told the franceinfo radio news network.

A Duke University study released during the summer found that cloth masks including knitted masks and folded bandanas didn’t offer much protection and further found that gaiter masks increase the transmission of the wearer’s respiratory droplets.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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