The South African government have issued new lock down guidelines that from 1 May 2020 every person in our country must wear a cloth face mask when they leave the house. So what is the hype about cloth masks? And do they really prevent the spread of coronavirus?
What are the new regulations and what do they mean?
As of the 1st of May anyone in South Africa must wear a cloth face mask when they leave the house. Based on international best practice this regulations is now in play here too. It is as simple as this. If you want to leave your home, for work of to purchase essential goods and services, you will need to be wearing a cloth mask from the moment you leave your home.
The president Cyril Rhamaposa first mentioned this in his speech of Thursday 23 April 2020, amidst great hilarity as he struggled to put on his mask. Many memes resulted, some of which you can see here: https://youtu.be/mFbqyqUa4j8.
When the lock down easing regulations were published it became clear that cloth masks were going to be a feature from level 4 onwards. Some say that this regulation may stay in place right up to level 2 and level 1.
How will the new face mask regulation be enforced
Although no announcements have been made, the most likely way it will be enforced is by shops not allowing you in if you are not wearing a mask! All shops and essential services will be at risk of fines and closures, as they need to ensure their shops are following all government guidelines in order to remain open.
You will also be at risk of being arrested, or being given a fine.
We will be watching the news closely to see how this rolls out. The message from the government has been clear to anyone that does not follow their regulations. Wear a cloth face mask or face the consequences, none of which will be good.
Do face masks stop the spread of Covid-19?
A cloth face mask cannot prevent the spread of coronavirus on its own. The pores and droplets they travel on are so small they can travel through even a three layer cloth mask.
However, when you couple this with other factors the risk of infection can be vastly reduced.
This means that if the carrier (who often shows no symptoms so does not know they are infected) and the person at risk of infection both wear a mask, and stand the required 6 feet apart from each other then the risk of infection drops.
So wear your mask, but follow all other guidelines too!
What are the guidelines that I need to follow when wearing a cloth mask?
- Put your mask on your face securely, and then do not touch it again until you return to your residence.
- Do not touch any part of your face or the mask with hands that have not been washed or cleaned with 70% alcohol hand sanitiser.
- Stay 6 feet away from any other person
- Regularly wash your hands, or sanitise if soap and water are not available.
- Always wash your mask with soap and water between uses
- Iron before use
What are the best design cloth face masks?
Although a variety of masks are available, try to make sure the mask you buy follows the following criteria:
- The cloth face mask should fully cover your nose and mouth
- It should fit securely, and remain in place for a number of hours
- It should be 3 layers (or have a space for a removable filter)
Where can I buy a cloth face mask?
They are helping to support out of work seamstresses, and profits will be used to pay salaries to out of work staff. Any surplus profits will be donated.
Need to buy cloth face masks in bulk for your office? No problem. They can help with that too, with great discounts.
Written by: Tabitha Bailey
Last updated: April 30, 2020