Health experts recommend wearing masks in public and keeping your distance from others in most cases, but whether you should do both could depend on the situation.
“There’s no invisible force field at 6 feet,” said Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, suggesting that it's best to don a mask as good measure.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the spread of the virus beyond 6 feet (almost 2 meters) is uncommon but more likely in poorly ventilated spaces. Some health experts say the virus can spread more easily than the agency indicates and suggest wearing masks even in prolonged outdoor gatherings when people are more than 6 feet apart.
Other factors could also influence whether it’s best to keep your distance while also wearing a mask. When people raise their voices or pant – such as when they sing, shout or exercise – they can expel more respiratory droplets or aerosols, and send them traveling farther through the air. The longer you are in a situation with a potential for exposure to the virus, the greater your risk of infection.
“The reason this stuff is so confusing is people want clear answers, and there’s not a straightforward answer,” said Lisa M. Lee, a public health expert at Virginia Tech.
Since no protective measure is entirely effective, Lee suggests layering safeguards like masks, social distancing and hand washing.
“And your mask is your basic layer,” she said.
Getting in the habit of wearing a mask anytime you leave the house also eliminates having to decide when you should, said Bob Bednarczyk, an expert in infectious diseases at Emory University.
“It’s one less thing to worry about,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Turkey, especially when compared to Europe and the U.S., mask-wearing has been increasingly encouraged by officials regardless of physical distance. In a circular issued by the Interior Ministry in early September, mask-wearing was declared obligatory in all public spheres, streets, parks, gardens, picnic areas, beaches, public transportation, workplaces and factories.
Those spotted without a face mask outside are subject to a TL 900 ($108) fine.
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