Mask in the supermarket: with or without? What scientists are now advising

Everyone decides for themselves
To the supermarket with or without a mask? What scientists are now advising

We have been wearing masks in supermarkets for around two years. Soon everyone will be able to decide for themselves whether they want it.

© Frank Hoermann / Sven Simon / Picture Alliance

On April 3rd, the mask requirement will fall in many areas. Whether you should actually do without a mask in the supermarket, for example, is another matter. A guide.

For around two years we have had to wear masks in supermarkets and other indoor public spaces such as restaurants, cinemas, museums and schools to slow down the spread of the corona virus. At first, fabric masks were enough, later the requirements became stricter and medical masks such as FFP2 became the standard. From this Sunday, masks will be compulsory in many areas – everyone can then decide for themselves. You should know a few things about this:

Where do you still have to wear a mask in the future?

The amended Infection Protection Act only provides for a few government requirements for wearing a mask in everyday life. This applies nationwide in ICE, Intercity and airplanes. The federal states can also generally order mask requirements for facilities where people at risk live or stay: medical practices, clinics, nursing homes and community facilities, for example for asylum seekers. Masks are then also mandatory in local bus and train transport. Broader mask requirements, for example again in schools or shops, are only possible if a state, together with the state parliament resolution, draws the hotspot rule for regions in a particularly critical situation. For the time being, only Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg are doing this out of the 16 federal states.

That’s all?

Even without government regulations, there can still be rules on masks – but also on vaccination certificates – namely by domiciliary rights. Companies, pubs or shops can now define and enforce this themselves for their areas. In Berlin, for example, a number of cultural institutions are sticking to the mask requirement – from the three large opera houses to theaters to the state museums. Many retail chains, on the other hand, are refraining from doing so for the time being, but are appealing to customers to continue to come with a mask voluntarily.

Do scientists continue to advise on the mask?

Yes, definitely. In particular because of the currently still high incidences, the extensive elimination of masks is considered premature. For the best protection against infection, experts recommend FFP2 masks. “If you want to protect yourself and others from infection, you should definitely wear a mask,” says physicist Eberhard Bodenschatz from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen. Because of the currently high infection rates, the additional protection makes sense, since it is very likely to be exposed to the virus. A mask with good filtering and a good, snug fit on the face is best.

Is the risk the same everywhere?

No, it is always a combination of different factors. The number of people in the room, the length of stay, the activity (e.g. singing, which produces many potentially contagious droplets) and ventilation play a role. According to experts, masks are particularly important when distances to other people cannot be maintained. “In a large market with good ventilation, the risk of infection is lower than in a cramped small shop with a longer stay,” says Bernd Salzberger, chairman of the German Society for Infectious Diseases.

What is advisable in the fresh air?

You can definitely do without wearing a mask outdoors, especially if you don’t stand very close together for a long time, says Ralf Bartenschlager, President of the German Society for Virology. “In closed rooms, however, I still recommend the mask.” If the infection rate has decreased significantly, you can also do without masks indoors.

Why does the mask still make sense?

The omicron variant is considered milder compared to earlier virus variants. But it is not harmless, especially for certain groups. Compared to other countries, a relatively large proportion of the German population over the age of 60 has not yet been vaccinated against Corona. There are also people for whom vaccinations have a bad effect and people who are already ill. Against the background of the many unknowns surrounding long-term consequences (Long Covid), it is definitely worth preventing an infection or re-infection, said the aerosol researcher Martin Kriegel from the TU Berlin recently on the RBB broadcaster radioeins. Masks caught larger droplets but also aerosols, i.e. even the finest particles in the air we breathe, explains Bodenschatz. With a mask that fits close to the face, you have about 100 times more protection than without, so you can stay in the same situation 100 times longer.

What’s the point of wearing the more comfortable cloth masks again?

Probably not that much. “With the current infection process and the dominance of the omicron variant, only the FFP2 mask makes sense,” emphasizes virologist Bartenschlager. “The fabric mask will not be of much use, the mouth and nose protection will be a little more, but significantly less than FFP2.” Salzberger sees no point in fabric models for self-protection, but for the protection of others it is better than no mask.


source site