New public health guidance from Monday 26 October, will strongly recommend that Islanders wear masks in public indoor spaces to protect the Island from community spread of COVID-19.
The use of nose and mouth coverings, such as face masks and face screens, will be strongly recommended for anyone over 11 years old in enclosed public settings. This will provide added protection within settings where social distancing cannot be guaranteed and where contact-tracing cannot be easily recorded, as well as in all health or care settings.
Dr Ivan Muscat, Deputy Medical Officer said: “This is very much the right time to urge the public to use masks routinely in the right settings. We have now seen one cluster of COVID-19, which means three or more linked cases that are not contained in a single household. We have also seen four cases of unknown source in the Island, despite extensive contact tracing.
“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.”
From Monday 26 October, masks should be worn when visiting:
- retail shops including post offices, pharmacies and banks
- supermarkets, indoor markets and petrol stations
- the bus station and using public transport or private hire cars/taxis
- hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries
- care homes
- hairdressers and beauty salons
Dr Muscat said: “The best type of masks are the three layer fabric masks, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, because they are more effective than single layer coverings, but both are reusable. In a setting where masks would need to be worn for a long time, clear face shields may be more convenient.”
Customer-facing staff are also recommended to wear masks or clear face shields to ensure protection of both staff and customers, unless a clear screen barrier can be effectively used to ensure physical distancing.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: “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.”
Clinical masks are only intended for single use and must not be worn repeatedly due to increased risk of transferring bacteria. Homemade fabric masks can be reused.
If the wearing of a mask is problematic to health, or causes distress and discomfort, then a clear face shield could be used as an alternative. There will be allowances in place for those who cannot wear any face covering for medical reasons.
An Island-wide campaign will be launched on Monday 26 October to remind Islanders about the importance of adhering to all public health measures this winter. Draft guidelines were reviewed and discussed with the Chamber of Commerce and the main retail supermarkets.
Government of Jersey News Release.