The usefulness of face masks have been much debated in the coronavirus outbreak but many officials are now either requiring or recommending them in order to keep everyone safe.
Since we serve drivers in both New York City and the UK, we will be referring to advice from both officials. To be sure on the latest advice for you, please check your government’s official statements.
UK: After careful consideration of the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the Government confirmed face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances.
NY: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that the virus can be transmitted to others before symptoms begin to show and therefore recommend cloth face coverings in public spaces.
When and who should use them?
UK: People who use public transport or visit shops should consider using a face covering. They do not need to be worn outdoors, while exercising, in schools, in workplaces such as offices, and retail, or by those who may find them difficult to wear such as young children who cannot use them without assistance, or those who may have problems breathing whilst wearing a face covering.
NY: Everyone must wear a face-covering whilst outside of their home. This includes whilst exercising such as running, walking and cycling. Children under age two, people who have difficulties breathing, or anyone who is not able to remove a face covering without assistance is not required to wear one at any time.
In both places, it is made very clear that face coverings are NOT a replacement for social distancing as you must keep a distance of two metres or six feet away from others. Regular handwashing remains crucial as face coverings are not preventative if ignoring these other guidelines.
People with coronavirus symptoms, as well as members of their household, should continue to follow the advice to self-isolate.
What type of mask?
The general public is being strongly urged NOT to purchase surgical masks or respirators, which are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments where the risk is greatest.
Instead, people should make their own face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items, which many will already own or purchase coverings that aren’t medically graded. Guidance on how to make your own has been published by the BBC here – go.inshur.com/2WskEgN. Etsy is a good place to look for masks that other people have made themselves if you lack the time, effort or materials.
If you do purchase them, Uber is reimbursing UK drivers up to £25 for PPE costs.
New York City is continuing to distribute face coverings in parks, DOE Grab & Go meal sites, NYCHA buildings, some Mitchell-Lama buildings, grocery stores, and during social distancing enforcement.
In New York also, one of our Community Champions, Lisa Rosa, has founded an initiative working with local tailors to bring free masks to TLC drivers. Let her know you’d like on by filling out this form – go.inshur.com/FreeMasks