By Elaine Whelan
As of Monday the 13th of July due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, people are required by law to wear face masks and coverings while on public transport. Failure to cooperate with this new rule can result in a €2,500 fine and possibly a six month jail sentence. No one wants that! For those of you that rely on public transport for daily use or in order to travel throughout Ireland for a family getaway, there is plenty for you and your children to keep in mind with these new regulations. The regulations do not apply to children under the age of 13, however it never does any harm. Here’s everything you need to know about mask wearing.
Many people unknowingly infect others by spreading germs through coughing, sneezing, talking or breathing. The purpose of face coverings is to stop the spread of the coronavirus as a physical barrier that stops each person from breathing out germs.
The outside of your mask is considered dirty as all the bacteria and germs you have been breathing out lodges here. Due to this fact, it is important to remind yourself and your children not to repeatedly touch your masks. Doing so will transfer your germs onto your hands which you will them deposit on everything you touch.
Always store your mask in a clean place. Throwing it in handbags or crumpling it up in pockets might be our first reaction however think about the next time you absentmindedly put your hand in your pocket or root through your handbag. Those pesky germs are all over your hands again just waiting for you to touch something. Instead store your masks by folding it so that the outside parts are touching and place in a Ziploc bag. If you are holding onto masks for a few members of your family make sure to label the bags or masks so that you know who owns what.
Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez, an infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in the US says that when washing reusable masks, “Warm water and any detergent you’re used to using at home should work great”. You can choose to hand wash them for 20 seconds or put them in the washing machine as normal. When drying, hang it out to air dry or if you are putting it in the dryer make sure it is on the hot setting to kill any remaining bacteria.
Some children may become upset by seeing you or others wearing masks. This is because the cover part of the face and young children rely on faces. Kids can’t see the friendly smile or familiar look that usually puts them at ease. When kids can’t see the person’s whole face, it’s harder to feel safe. It’s natural to feel scared. Parents should help their children adjust to people wearing face coverings by using simple words to explain why people are wearing masks, give kids time to look, watch, and get used to what’s new and answer all their questions. If your child is wary of wearing a mask themselves perhaps make them fun by allowing them to decorate their mask, make your own at home or have their favourite teddy bears or dolls wear masks too.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s website talks you through how to make your own face coverings at home, which you can find here:
As well as that, many companies have taken to selling both disposable and reusable face masks for adults and special ones designed for children.
Masks are very important in fighting the spread of Covid-19 while travelling and in public spaces. Your mask protects others and their mask protects you!