There are lots of mixed messages between one country and another over the need to wear protective face coverings in the emerging world post Covid-19. When it comes to travel most have policies over wearing masks but these again differ and while some are rules others are simply guidelines.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says people need to learn to live with Covid-19 until a vaccine is widely available and mandatory mask wearing will offer an additional level of protection for travellers and workers. As such it has called upon all travellers to don protective face masks to show they ‘wear to care’ in the new normal of travelling.
“As countries transition from lockdowns to reopening their borders, the wearing of face masks helps signal the return of safer travels, while also providing personal protection for users as well as those around them,” it explains.
The advice from WTTC in favour of mandatory mask wearing comes from evidence that countries which are recovering faster and avoid second Covid-19 spikes are those where the use of face masks have been widely enforced and encouraged.
Following medical guidance from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, WTTC advises the wearing of masks on all forms of transport throughout the entire traveller journey, as well as when visiting any interior venue or those with restricted movement which results in close personal contact of two metres or less.
WTTC has asked governments around the globe to enforce the wearing of face masks, as well as enlisting the support of the private sector to remind customers of their obligations to protect their health and that of fellow travellers. It is also encouraging travellers to join in the WTTC social media campaign which is launching with the hashtag #wear2care.
Scientific evidence suggests that the use of face masks will reduce the risk of transmission, protect the user and those around them. It is part of a layered approach to maintaining traveller health and supporting wellbeing, in WTTC’s case part of a wider ‘Safe & Seamless Travel’ guideline which also includes testing and tracing, frequent handwashing and using hand sanitiser to significantly reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
“The safety and hygiene of travellers and those who work in Travel & Tourism is of paramount importance, which is why we now strongly recommend masks being mandatory,” explains Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC. “‘Wear to care’ promotes the protection of face mask users and visibly shows they care about the welfare and safety of their fellow travellers, which will help save lives and encourage the return of Safe Travels.”
However, Ms Guevara notes that the wearing of masks should not be politicised. “Wearing a mask needs to become part of everyday life to ensure everyone enjoys travelling in safety until a vaccine for Covid-19 is found. We implore the private sector and global governments to encourage their use so wearing a mask becomes the new normal,” she adds.