Airlines ban travelers from wearing face masks… why?

Airlines, mostly in Europe, have banned fabric masks and required travelers to wear other types, such as those used in surgical procedures.

Last August, Finnair, the national air carrier of Finland, joined the list of other companies requesting a specific type of masks, including Air France, German airline Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, and Croatia Airlines.

About the reason behind this, Finnair told the Washington Post: “The health and safety of our customers and staff is our priority, and cloth masks are somewhat less effective in protecting against infection, compared to medical masks.”

The company allows passengers to board its planes if they wear masks used in operations and respirators, such as FFP2 or FFP3, in addition to other masks identical or similar to the type N95.

While US airlines have some restrictions on masks, including refusals that contain valves, they do not prevent travelers from wearing masks made of cloth, and the recommendation to wear masks on planes, trains and buses has been extended until mid-January.

And the International Air Transport Association said: “Some studies show better efficacy for medical masks compared to cloth ones, and the masks significantly reduce the spread of the virus, but at this stage we have not determined the types of masks that travelers should wear.”

Experts say it is a “smart idea” for airlines to determine which types of masks are allowed and that meet the standards required to prevent the spread of the virus.

Purvi Barik, an immunologist, said, “The masks have different filtering capabilities, and it is very important to select the appropriate type, especially in airplanes, because it is a closed place and it is difficult to apply social distancing, and the masks can make a big difference, especially with the spread of the delta mutant.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that masks should have two or more layers of breathable and washable fabric, should completely cover the nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the face, without gaps or openings to prevent air from leaking.

Experts agree that the effective mask consists of several layers.

In a previous report to Reuters, Dr. Charles Holmes, director of the Center for Global Health Innovation at Georgetown University, gave advice to cover one’s face, whatever the shape, saying: “The best muzzle is the one that you put on consistently and correctly.”

Dr. Dosh Schaefer, a professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, also recommended the use of a cloth mask when one is walking in open air, for example, and the use of two masks, or distinct types of masks such as (KN95) or (N95), or two masks when going to workplaces, grocery stores or clinics. and hospitals.

As Lawrence Justin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, said: “If one puts on a mask in the right way, all kinds are effective.”

However, he noted that the material and quality of the mask can make a difference.

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