Advice 30 Jul
Behind the Mask: When & Why We Need to Wear a Face Mask
Ever since the pandemic became a reality for Australia, we’ve seen numerous fashion brands manufacturing masks for essential workers, everyday humans sewing their own, and some creative souls even repurposing their socks and underwear.
While the guidelines around face masks were fairly relaxed in the beginning, the Australian government has begun to reevaluate their stance on face masks in an attempt to slow down the increasing number of infections.
With the rules & regulations differing from state to state, and the conflicting advice about when we should be wearing them, we understand if you’re feeling overwhelmed and confused.
Here’s our take on the current rules and guidelines.
Do I Have to Wear a Mask?
If you’re in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, the answer is yes. It is mandatory to wear a mask (or some sort of face covering) when you’re out and about in public. From this Sunday 2nd August onwards, this rule will be extended to all Victorians- even residents in regional areas. Fail to wear a mask and you’ll incur a $200 fine.
But, this doesn’t apply to children (especially those under two years of age) and individuals with breathing difficulties. You also don’t need to wear a mask if you’re doing strenuous exercise, like running.
If you’re in NSW, it’s strongly advised that you wear a mask when physical distancing (1.5 m) is not possible, and if you’re experiencing any symptoms.
For all other states, face coverings have not been made compulsory - but certain stores and retailers, such as Apple, may require patrons to wear a mask before entering.
Why is a Face Mask Necessary?
Face masks won’t prevent you from contracting the virus but it still reduces the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading. The mask acts as a barrier that contains respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing and reduces the chance of you passing on any infections to others.
With the majority of cases being spread through community transmission, health professionals in states such as NSW are now calling for face masks to be mandatory to decrease the spike in numbers.
It’s important to remember that a face mask isn’t a complete solution and you still need to take necessary precautions, such as social distancing, washing your hands, and staying home as much as possible.
What is the Right Way to Wear a Mask?
According to the Victorian Chief Health Officer, your mask should cover your nose and mouth areas, and fit securely around your face. This provides an extra physical barrier and reduces the spread of respiratory droplets.
Best Practices When Wearing Masks:
Be sure to wash your hands before wearing your mask so you’re not passing any germs from external surfaces onto your face. You should also avoid touching the mask while it’s on and refrain from moving it around so you don’t contaminate your hands.
When removing your mask, always remove it using the ear straps and not by pulling it off from the front as it could be contaminated.
If you wear glasses, it’s best to wear a mask that has a thin wire at the top so you can bend it firmly over your nose bridge. This will help stop your glasses from fogging up.
What if I’m Deaf or Hard of Hearing?
A huge (and significant) argument against face masks is that it hinders people who are deaf or hard of hearing from communicating effectively. When our mouths and facial expressions are covered up, it prevents people who rely on lip-reading from interpreting what others are saying and from obtaining important & timely information. While face masks are intended to protect us from spreading the virus, it also acts as yet another barrier for people with disabilities, and it shows how accessibility is often an afterthought.
To overcome this barrier, IZ Adaptive has created an innovative Lip Reader Mask for the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of a traditional face covering, the mask is designed with a clear panel that reveals the wearer’s lips so they can communicate effectively with those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Although it’s a non-medical mask, it is still dual-layered to prevent the spread of droplets, and the fabric is light and breathable. To increase its accessibility, the masks are also hearing aid-friendly as the elastic straps are secured at the back of the head, and not around the ears.
The Lip Reader mask is just one way adaptive brands are stepping up to assist people with disabilities during these trying times, and we hope to see more solutions that are focused around accessibility. To purchase them for yourself or a loved one, be sure to check them out here.
Image: Without the visibility of her smile, this expression may be taken a completely different way.
Whether you love or hate the idea of face masks, it’s important that we all do our part to reduce community transmission of the virus so that we can protect our loved ones and resume our normal lives.
Stay well, stay safe.
Until next time,