The masks are on – hotel rules
Last updated: November 4, 2020
As the months of the Covid-19 pandemic have gone on, the UK government has extended its guidance on mask wearing. The public must now wear a face covering in any enclosed public space where there are people you would not normally meet – and this includes public areas in hotels. Note that this does not apply when eating in a hotel restaurant – once you are seated at a table you can remove the mask (remember to store it safely, rather than leaving on the table), as it clearly wouldn’t be practical to eat otherwise.
The laws don’t apply to children under 11 (UK government advice is that children under three should not wear a mask at all). Other exemptions include people who can’t cope with wearing a face covering due to hidden disabilities such ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), anyone travelling with a person who needs to lip read, and those with certain respiratory conditions.
Why wear a face covering?
Masks are recommended as they can help to stop respiratory droplets from travelling into the air and onto other people. The CDC (US Centers for Disease Control) says that because Covid-19 spreads mainly when people are in close contact with each other (about 2m) masks are especially important where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
According to a study in the medical journal The Lancet masks are incredibly effective in curtailing the spread of the virus. If you don’t wear a mask or socially distance, there’s a 17% chance you will pass on the disease. The risk drops to 3% if you wear a mask. The study also suggests that eye protection, such as goggles and visors, can cut the risk of infection by as much as 22%. (The use of visors, however, is only advised for healthcare professionals and those who offer services such as beauty care where they must be close to clients’ faces. The visor should be worn in conjunction with a mask.)
What about hotel staff?
There are no legal requirements for staff in hotels, restaurants and bars to wear face coverings. However, the government advises that they are worn where there are no other precautions, such as screens and visors, in place, and if they will not hinder staff communicating with guests.
It’s the way you wear it
To be effective, best practice is that masks must fit properly around your nose and mouth without any gaps. The Royal Society and the British Academy both reported that having gaps between your face and the mask significantly reduces its effectiveness. To achieve this, they say a mask should have a bendable edge that allows the wearer to mould the material around their nose, and adjustable straps or loops, to ensure a more secure fit. This also helps people who wear glasses, as it stops your breath escaping out of the top of the mask and making your glasses mist up.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that you follow a good routine for wearing the mask to make it safe:
- Wash or sanitise hands before touching the mask
- Use the straps to handle it
- Make sure the mask covers your mouth and nose
- Avoid touching the mask while wearing it
- Change the mask if it is dirty or wet
- Clean or sanitise hands before removing the mask
- Use straps to remove the mask, rather than touching the material
- Pull mask away from face (rather than down or up)
- Store a fabric mask in a clean, resealable bag.
Fabric masks should be washed and dried according to the instructions for the fabric used, preferably with soap or detergent and hot water, and should be stored in a plastic bag until they are needed.
What sort of mask should I wear?
To offer the best protection, the WHO recommends that masks have an inner layer for absorption (preferably light coloured so that you can see if it is wet or dirty), a middle layer of polypropylene fabric for filtration, and an outer layer made from non-absorbent material, such as polyester, which should also be tightly woven, because most viruses measure between 0.3 and 1.0 microns in diameter.
WHO advice for the over 60s and vulnerable people is to wear medical, rather than fabric masks.
According to a study carried out at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in the US the best-performing homemade design they tested was made from two layers of high-quality, heavyweight ‘quilter’s cotton’ that had a thread count of 180-plus, and offered better filtration than a surgical mask.
The UK government advises that face masks are at least two layers, but notes that WHO advice is to wear three-layer, non-medical masks. It also makes it clear that wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing, washing hands and avoiding touching surfaces.
You should also avoid masks with a ventilation vent. They may look like something out of a dystopian movie, but they allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material – this means respiratory droplets could reach others and infect them if you are carrying the virus. Neither the UK government nor the CDC recommends these kinds of masks. The UK government also makes it clear that medical-grade masks should not be used by the general public, in order to prevent a shortage that would affect frontline health workers.
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RightRooms believes all information to be correct at time of going to press. As guidance, research and facts around Covid-19 are changing constantly, the information provided here is for general information only and does not constitute professional advice. Please check with venues, locations and attractions before travelling.