Travelling in the US? You might not need to mask up any more.
According to the latest change in the masking policy by the US transit authority, wearing protective face masks on trains, aeroplanes, cabs and other public transports will no longer be enforced.
The relaxation comes after US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida ruled against the 14-month-old mandate, saying the US CDC has exceeded its authority with the mandate, reported Reuters.
This, after the CDC extended the mask mandate till 3 May in light of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Major US Airlines have also reportedly dropped their compulsory masking clause since the announcement.
The district court's ruling means the mask mandate will have to be lifted, although the Federal Administration has the option of appealing the order.
"Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time," the official statement read.
The US, among other countries, had already lifted masking restrictions in public and private outdoor and indoor spaces.
However, the CDC continues to recommend people keep their masks on indoors and while travelling in public vehicles.
Is It Time to Stop Masking Up?
If you're thinking of putting away your masks for good, you might want to think again.
Thanks to subvariants of Omicron and recombinant strains, the world has found itself in the middle of yet another COVID wave. While some countries like South Korea and Germany saw the peak with record high infections a few weeks ago, the rate of infection in India is now on the rise.
On Monday, 18 April, Delhi recorded a whopping 200 percent jump in new COVID cases over the course of a week.
According to Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain, while infections are surging, the rate of hospitalizations is low.
The Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, 16 April, put all the NCR districts on alert mode.
Mandatory masking in public spaces and vehicles —which was scrapped last month— has been reinstated in Gurugram and Noida, among other NCR districts.
As cases continue to go up, our best bet at protecting ourselves from COVID is still masking, social distancing and maintaining good hand hygiene.
Whether you;re vaccinated or not, wearing a well fitted protective mask can help provide added protection against catching the virus, and also keep you from spreading it to others.
Picking the Mask That’s Best Fit for You
Currently, there are 3 main types of masks being used,
The surgical mask
The cloth mask
Experts however recommend using N95 masks (the ones without valves) for best protection against COVID infection.
It’s important to make sure they are of a good quality. So, look for the ISI stamp to make sure they're genuine.
As far as caring for the mask and reusing goes, washing N95 masks is not recommended as it can render them ineffective.
However, they can be safely reused if there is a 5-day gap between using the same mask again. This is because the virus doesn’t stay on surfaces for longer than 96 hours.
Watch this video to know more about N95 and the other types of masks available and how they work.
(Written with inputs from Reuters.)