Published on: Thu 28 May 2020

Medical face masks in NL public transport not forbidden

This article is only relevant for the dutch market and relates to the question whether or not medical face masks are permitted in public transport. 

The Dutch government has published several measures for recovery from the imposed limitations following the Corona (Covid-19) pandemic. One of the recovery measures is the restart of normal services of public transport, with the condition that passengers wear non-medical face masks. 

Question on use of medical face masks in public transport

Q: Are medical face masks forbidden in public transport now that non medical face masks are mandatory?  

A: The short answer is: the use of medical face masks is not forbidden.

The detailed answer is that the government's official communications are not conclusive. The communication only indicates that wearing non-medical face masks is mandatory (source [opens in new tab]). However, during the public debate, Prime Minister Rutte indicated that no fine would be imposed for wearing a medical mask.

The full answer of the prime minister was (in dutch):

"Dan kom ik bij de mondkapjesdiscussie. Laat ik daarover als eerste zeggen dat het doel van zo'n mondkapje in het ov is dat je anderen beschermt tegen jezelf en dus niet jezelf tegen anderen. Dat is het doel. Het is waar dat het niet-medische mondkapje minder effect heeft dan een medisch mondkapje, maar het heeft volgens het OMT wel degelijk een effect in situaties waarin die 1,5 meter niet kan worden gehandhaafd. Het is niet zo dat je een boete krijgt als je een medisch mondkapje opzet. Dat heb ik hier en daar horen zeggen. Dat is niet het geval. We vragen om een niet-medisch mondkapje op te zetten, omdat we de medische mondkapjes willen gebruiken voor de zorg. We willen daar geen concurrentie. Maar het is niet zo dat iemand een boete krijgt als hij een medisch mondkapje op zet."

Source of the quote: link.  

Below is a video of the relevant debate and the statements made by the Prime Minister.

Translated through Deepl into English:

"Then I come to the mouth mask discussion. First of all, let me say that the purpose of such a mouth mask is that you protect others from yourself and not yourself from others. That is the goal. It is true that the non-medical mouth mask has less effect than a medical mouth mask, but according to the OMT it does have an effect in situations in which the 1.5 meter cannot be maintained. It is not the case that you will be fined if you put on a medical mouth mask. I've heard that said here and there. That's not the case. We're asking you to put on a non-medical mouth mask because we want to use the medical mouth mask for care. We don't want any competition there. But it's not like anyone gets fined for putting on a medical mouth mask."

 

Conclusion

The conclusion is that the policy of Dutch governments advice to passengers in public transport is to use non medical face masks. For the creation of these face masks has the Dutch standardisation organisation 'NEN', published a guidance document (see our blog post on the guidance document here). However, the use of medical face masks in dutch public transport is not forbidden and won't be fined. 


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