In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most unexpected but prevalent problems to come from the pandemic: how do you properly remove your mask when eating at a restaurant? This question pops into your head as soon as you sit down to eat, and start fearing that you might be either exposed to the virus or unwillingly spreading it. Here are the tips to keep yourself and those around you safe in this situation.
How to properly remove your mask when consuming food and other restaurant etiquettes to follow during the pandemic
Since face masks are a requirement in most businesses, and with good reason, people have been encountering an issue that has become a common daily struggle: how do I eat in public during the pandemic? To put the mask on the table or not, to remove it for each bite or not, and the questions pile up in your mind as you sit down to eat. And if you have kids with you, the problem can get a lot worse.
According to an excellent guide published by the Huffington Post, the first thing you must do as soon as you sit down is sanitizing your hands. Although washing your hands with soap and water will always be the preferred choice, this might be the exception, as going to the restroom to do so represents much more exposure than just sanitizing them while staying put on your table.
Now that your hands are clean, you can take off your mask. Always handle the mask by the ear loops or straps, never touching the inside or outside of the facepiece itself, and sanitize your hands again after removing it. Now that you’ve correctly removed the mask, where do you put it?
The Huffington Post says not on your table. The answer to the question is diverse, and even doctors have different suggestions, but the one thing they all agree on is that the table is not an option. COVID-19, as we’ll explain later, is transmitted through respiratory droplets, which can fall on the mask very easily if you have it on display.
Instead, they recommend placing the mask on a clean and breathable container, like a paper bag or mesh laundry bag, where you can store your mask away from any source of contamination. This should be brought by the diner and be as important to remember as a bottle of sanitizer. These containers also allow the masks to dry.
As explained in the article, even reusable cloth masks start to lose effectiveness if they’re damp, which occurs when the wearer breathes. Storing them in places like a pocket or a purse won’t allow them to dry properly. But, if you don’t have a paper or mesh bag at hand, there’s another solution recommended by Aaron Rossi, the CEO of Reditus Laboratories and a doctor.
He recommends rolling the masks up, taking advantage of their elasticity, and place them on the wrist while eating at restaurants. This allows them to dry and keeps them away from any contaminants. This can be done by folding the inside of the mask, which is the side in contact with your face, inwards on itself, and placing the elastic straps around the wrist. The result is you wearing the mask like a bracelet. According to Rossi, this also leaves the mask accessible for when you need to put it back on quickly, like when a server approaches you.
Now, to put it back on between bites or not. Even though this sounds like the safest thing to do, doctors advise against this as it involves too much handling of the mask. This can contaminate it and other surfaces as well. According to the article, this increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and the mask should be kept on right until the moment you’re about to eat, and then put it back on when leaving the place.
Face masks and COVID-19
The use of all types of face coverings has been one of the most prominent things to happen this year. Before the pandemic, most of us had never had to use a face mask, and now we’re all familiar with all the types of face masks. From surgical masks, to face shields, to KN95 masks and N95 masks. We’re even familiar with the most popular 3M N95 masks, like the 3M 8511, 3M 1860, and 3M 8210.
When the news broke out that a pandemic was being caused by a respiratory virus, people began to buy all types of medical supplies and face masks in bulk and wholesale. Now, hospitals in the United States are desperately looking for masks, particularly N95 respirators, as they’ve become very hard to find for sale in both physical and online stores.
N95 masks are considered the best type of mask for virus protection, which is why they’re so necessary in the healthcare field where workers are constantly and closely exposed to the virus every day. They have very high antiviral filtering properties that make them the preferred choice in high-risk situations. They can also filter out other particles, like dust, smoke, and pollen, which is why they can have other uses.
But, in public settings where the risk of infection is much smaller, reusable cloth masks are the preferred choice in combination with social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend these masks for the general public to make sure the medical-grade ones reach frontline workers in the USA.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can be very mild, resembling the flu, or even be asymptomatic. This means people can be spreading the disease without knowing it. However, some people can develop severe forms of this disease, resulting in the need for mechanical ventilation and other serious complications. This is why everyone must use a face mask, even if they don’t show any symptoms.