People wearing mask in Yanshan InZone 20190129. Wikipedia Commons License.
31 Mar 2020

Austria makes masks mandatory in supermarkets to stop spread of COVID-19

The Austrian daily newspaper Kurier wrote on Monday that everyone visiting a large supermarket will be required to wear a mask from April 6 and onwards. Masks will be sold in front of major supermarkets to ensure they are available to all citizens.

UPDATE: Slovenia passed a similar law that went into effect already this past Monday.

Some scientists now believe masks could be crucial to stop the COVID-19 spread. After a former FDA administrator in the United States suggested every person should wear a mask in public for an extra layer of protection (for others), the CDC in the US is now considering adding wearing masks to its recommendations for the public. But the group isn't talking about medical masks – especially not N95 masks. Here´s what the Washington Post learned about the possible new US directives.


A sneeze produces many droplets that could carry illnesses such as COVID-19. Photo: Wikipedia

A sneeze produces many droplets that could carry illnesses such as COVID-19. Photo: Wikipedia

Masks are meant to protect others - not yourself

"It would be a mistake to think that such masks will protect you. But the airborne transmission is reduced somewhat. This is not a substitute for physical distancing. It is only an additional tightening measure," said Austrian government Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) in statement.

The measures are being tightened because, according to Kurz, the situation in Austria at the moment is only "the calm before the storm".


Homemade masks "OK"

It will also be permissible to wear self-made masks: "The less you sneeze and cough, the less danger there is - every form of mouth covering helps."

Protection is mandatory in Austria as soon as supermarkets can offer it in front of the entrance. However, there is currently no regulation on this. It is, however, clear that  noone will be able to enter a market if they  refuse to accept the masks offered at the entrance.

When asked whether the bid would remain limited to supermarkets, Kurz said that it would subsequently be mandatory wherever you come into contact with other people, depending on the population density: it should be differentiated, for example, whether one is in the country or in the city, said the ÖVP leader to the Kurier.


Chinese health officials strongly recommend the public to wear masks

Masks in public have been common in China for many years, and it has been understood there mainly as a form of courtesy to others when having symptoms of a cold or a flu, not as a protection from getting getting sick yourself.

The CBC News wrote today, that Science magazine had been trying for days to speak to to George Gao, head of China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

When Science magazine  finally reached him, they asked if he could point to any mistakes that might explain why Western countries were struggling to flatten the coronavirus curve, Gao was very clear:

"The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren't wearing masks," Gao said.

"You've got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others."


Photo Credit (Cover photo above:) 

People wearing mask in Yanshan in Zone 20190129. Wikipedia Commons License. Photo by Steven Sun