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'The Right Time' To Wear Masks Inside Public Spaces

The government is launching another push to try and encourage everyone over the age of 11 to wear masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces across Jersey.

It's been strongly recommended that people wear masks inside public spaces, but there's been concern that not enough people are listening to it.

The new guidance is due to be published on Monday - which will say islanders should wear masks when going to:

  • Shops - including post offices, pharmacies, and banks
  • Supermarkets, indoor markets and petrol stations
  • The bus station, public transport, private cars and taxis
  • Hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries
  • Care homes
  • Hairdressers and beauty salons

Customer-facing staff are also urged to wear masks unless a screen barrier is in place.

The Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, says it's the right time to do this as there has been one cluster of COVID-19 and four other people diagnosed with no idea of where they caught it.

"This is not an unexpected development in the spread of COVID and is proportionate to the increase in viral transmission during the winter months. Masks are an effective way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and they are a useful addition to the other public health measures that are in place.

"Wearing masks reduces the droplets emitted whilst breathing, talking, coughing and sneezing. It is these droplets that contain the virus and it is these droplets that are responsible for the main form of transmission of COVID. The use of mouth and nose coverings, in addition to increased hand hygiene and physical distancing of 1 metre or more, will help to control the spread of the virus within Jersey."

Dr Muscat also says the best type of mask to use is a three-layer fabric one as recommended by the World Health Organisation, but clear face shields may be more convenient for people who need to wear masks for a longer period of time.

Clinical masks are only effective when used once because it could transfer bacteria. Homemade fabric masks can be used repeatedly.

The government has recommended that anyone who isn't comfortable with wearing a mask could wear a clear face shield instead. Allowances will be in place for people who can't wear masks for medical reasons.

Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf says this will be monitored ahead of a States debate on whether to make the wearing of masks mandatory in these places.

"Islanders can be reassured that Jersey remains well-placed to deal with this increase in cases we are seeing. 

"It is the community’s responsibility to continue with the good work already shown in maintaining measures and as this new guidance is introduced, we should all encourage each other to use masks.

"It is important we all maintain and support the measures which are designed to work effectively together. This includes maintaining good hand and respiratory hygiene, remembering to physically distance of 1 metre or more where possible, and now increasing use of masks in indoor public spaces. If we can all continue to work together through this pandemic, we can reduce the spread and avoid the need for stricter measures.

"Ministers continue to support the preparation and drafting of legislation for the mandatory use of masks. We accept there may be a short period of adjustment for customers and businesses in the coming days. We will review the result of these measures before considering the mandatory use of masks following a States Assembly debate."

An island-wide campaign will start on Monday 26 October to encourage islanders to stick to public health measures through the winter.

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