Tag: mask

What to do if your seatmate won’t mask up

Christopher Elliott, Special to USA TODAY
Published 7:00 a.m. ET Dec. 4, 2020


Every leading U.S. airline will require passengers to wear facial coverings during flights. Airlines say they won’t let customers without masks board a plane. (May 6)

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On a recent flight from Nairobi, Kenya, to Cairo, Wycliffe Okoth sat next to two women wearing masks – on their chins. He faced one of the most common traveler dilemmas of 2020: What do you do when your seatmate won’t wear a mask, despite airline rules? 

“One of the ladies was of the opinion that COVID-19 does not exist and that governments are only faking it to get donor funds,” says Okoth, an essayist from New York. “The other one believed that COVID-19 is real but is being exaggerated.”

He asked them to wear their masks correctly. One of them complied, but the other refused because she insisted COVID-19 didn’t exist despite more than 64 million cases and 1.5 million deaths worldwide. Finally, he asked a crew member to intervene. The COVID-19 denier grudgingly agreed to mask up, but when the flight attendant left, she slipped her mask off her face again.

“People who defy mask mandates now are doing it intentionally, often with great hostility,” says Katie Foss, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and author of the book “Constructing the Outbreak: Epidemics in Media & Collective Memory.” 

Here’s one thing we can probably agree on: COVID-194 fatigue is real. The drama playing itself out on planes is emblematic of a broader conflict happening everywhere. 

And oh, what a drama it is.

Although most passengers are complying with the mask rules, some have found creative ways around them. Airlines are selectively banning passengers who refuse to comply with the requirements or threatening them with worse. One flight attendant was captured on video claiming that flight attendants were government officials (they aren’t) and that passengers who didn’t comply would never be able to fly on any airline again (there is no such blacklist). 

What do the experts say about seatmates who won’t wear a mask?

Etiquette experts say the best way to deal with a seatmate who won’t mask up is not to deal with one at all.

“Fighting with someone that you have to sit next to for hours may not be the right idea,” says Adeodata Czink, who runs an etiquette consultancy called Business of Manners. 

Her advice? Ask for another seat. Let the flight crew deal with the scofflaw.

Saying something is a personal choice, says Diane Gottsman, who runs the Protocol School of Texas. 

“You can certainly turn to your seatmate and politely request they adjust their mask to fit properly,” she says. “But you’re clearly taking a risk – especially in tight quarters where you’re not certain how the other person will react.”

How to negotiate with someone who won’t mask up

Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert who co-hosts the podcast “Were you raised by wolves?,” says the negotiation can be

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City of Edmonton clamping down on mask mandate in recreation facilities, closing 22 arenas to curb spread of COVID-19

The City of Edmonton is clamping down on enforcement of the mandatory mask bylaw and will require masks in all city recreation facilities even if an individual is exempt.

a person holding a sign: A patron enters the Kinsmen Sports Centre, in Edmonton Monday Aug. 10, 2020. Starting Dec. 1, even individuals who are exempt from wearing face coverings will need to don one in the city's recreation centres.

© Provided by Edmonton Journal
A patron enters the Kinsmen Sports Centre, in Edmonton Monday Aug. 10, 2020. Starting Dec. 1, even individuals who are exempt from wearing face coverings will need to don one in the city’s recreation centres.

On Friday, interim city manager Adam Laughlin announced the change, which will take effect Dec. 1 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases spike in the Edmonton region. The city has previously advised businesses to make accommodations for those exempt from wearing a face covering by allowing them in or providing curb-side pickup.


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But Laughlin said further restrictions are required with the growing number of cases. Masks can be removed when exercising or swimming inside the facilities but must be worn at all other times.

There are currently 6,614 active cases of COVID-19 in the Edmonton Zone.

“We’ve reached the tipping point where the rate of the spread of the virus could grow and cause even more devastating to our health and safety of our residents and our economy,” he said. “The priority right now is shutting down the spread of transmission and protecting our health system.”

The city’s five recreation facilities will remain open for individual exercise and swimming, but Laughlin said 22 arenas will be closing between Dec. 1-18. These arenas weren’t open to the public, but available for bookings by leagues or community organizations. Only the Downtown Community Arena will remain open as part of the World Junior Hockey Championships to be hosted at Rogers Place.

Three city-run senior centres and the St. Francis Xavier Sports Centre will also close and all indoor events and group activities at city facilities will be cancelled, Laughlin said.

Two popular holiday attractions will also look a little different this year. Zoominescence at the Edmonton Valley Zoo will continue but all guests must wear a mask and book timed-entry tickets in advance. Crestwood’s popular Candy Cane Lane will be drive-through only, with sleigh rides and food trucks cancelled this year.

Laughlin cautioned Edmontonians that if there isn’t a reduction in virus transmission by Dec. 15 an expansion or enhancement of restrictions may be required through the holidays. This could include the city taking its own action by ordering the closure of restaurants or businesses.

He also asked residents to avoid non-essential travel as much as possible and shop locally within their neighbourhoods.

Council’s emergency advisory committee is next scheduled to meet on Dec. 10.

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Pennsylvania tightens mask mandate, enacts new travel rules as COVID-19 surges

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said Tuesday residents should wear masks in all settings – even if socially distanced – and avoid traveling, if possible.

For those who leave the state and want to come back, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine advises testing negative for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before doing so. Those who don’t should quarantine for two weeks or until they receive a negative result.

The new guidance, in effect as of Friday, doesn’t apply to those who work across state lines or travel for medical care, Levine added. And it’s still up to local businesses to enforce the mask mandate.

“With freedom comes responsibility … and we all have a responsibility to work toward the common good,” Levine said. “And right now that means following the guidance to stop the spread of Covid-19 through out the state.”

The department reported more than 26,000 new cases of COVID-19 between Nov. 6 and Nov. 12 – an increase of more than 9,500 over the previous week. Testing positivity rates also spiked from 6.8 percent to 9.6 percent. The department has said anything over 5 percent is cause for concern.

So, too, are the rising hospitalizations across the state. The department said more than 2,500 residents are receiving inpatient care for the virus, of which about 22 percent are in intensive care. Levine said modeling shows the state could run out of ICU beds next month.

“COVID-19 is burning throughout our country … every single state in the country, from Maine to Hawaii, is being impacted,” Levine said. “What we are saying is, Pennsylvania is not an island … and we are seeing the impact of those increases from throughout the country.”

The new guidance comes just days after Gov. Tom Wolf participated in an emergency summit over the weekend with four other northeastern states.

Wolf attended a virtual meeting on Saturday hosted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that included New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Delaware Gov. John Carney. The leaders discussed ways to combat the fall resurgence of the virus, months after entering into a regional coalition that coordinated on restrictions, testing and PPE.

Lyndsay Kensinger, a Wolf spokesperson, said Monday that the governor “did participate in the call last evening with Govs. Cuomo, Lamont, Murphy and Carney to discuss working together during this next phase of the COVID pandemic.”

“Topics ranged from travel, including for college students returning for the holidays, mask mandates, gatherings, testing, education, and sharing of resources and PPE,” she said. “These discussions will continue.”

Levine told reporters Tuesday there’s no plan to return to the color coded phases of restrictions – red, yellow and green – and that it’s up to local municipalities to enact stricter regulations. She couldn’t say what conditions might trigger a statewide response as was seen in the spring.

“It’s impossible for me to predict the future in terms of what exactly conditions might exist,” Levine said.

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Most people are wearing N95s incorrectly when they fly. Here are 3 reason you should switch to a different mask for travel.

a couple of people that are standing in a room: Passengers wearing face masks on board a plane at Geneva Airport. Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images
Passengers wearing face masks on board a plane at Geneva Airport. Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

  • All major US airlines and a growing number of airports are requiring that passengers wear face masks when they fly but not all masks are as effective as most people think.
  • The N95 mask, while believed to be the gold standard, actually has some flaws when used outside of the healthcare setting.
  • The average user isn’t likely wearing a fitted mask, reducing its effectiveness, and an N95 mask with a vent is useless in protecting others.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As more airlines begin to ditch the blocking middle seat strategy, one standard remains clear across the board: face masks must be worn when flying.


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Since July, all major US require passengers to wear a face mask when flying as the struggling industry hopes to win back confidence from its self-grounded customers. It’s become so important to airlines that they’ve begun banning passengers who don’t comply with the new rule with Delta Air Lines alone banning nearly 500 passengers, so far, as Business Insider’s Allana Akhtar reported last month.

Recent US government and Harvard University School of Public Health studies attribute the face mask requirement for low onboard transmission rates on aircraft, more so than blocking middle seats. Airlines such as Southwest Airlines have cited the effectiveness of mask-wearing and onboard high-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters, when choosing to fill their planes over blocking seats. 

But not all masks are created equal and flyers should carefully choose which one they pack for their next trip, especially as the holiday travel season quickly approaches. One mask to be avoided is actually the popular N95 mask, according to Dr. Salvatore Pardo, the chair of emergency medicine at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital.

Though thought to be the gold standard of masks to protect yourself from contracting the virus, Pardo pointed out numerous flaws in how the public has adopted the mask, in an interview with Business Insider. 

Here’s you should consider a different mask on your next flight. 

You’re likely not protecting anybody, including yourself

text: Vented N95 masks are the equivalent of "wearing nothing," according to Pardo. Justin Sullivan/Getty

© Justin Sullivan/Getty
Vented N95 masks are the equivalent of “wearing nothing,” according to Pardo. Justin Sullivan/Getty

In an ideal scenario, the N95 protects the wearer against potential pathogens in the air thanks to its “very efficient filtration of airborne particles,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors use the mask in a healthcare setting to protect themselves for that reason, as a loose disposable or cloth mask doesn’t provide the same level of protection to the wearer. 

In the current pandemic, however, the worst kind of N95 mask you can wear to protect others, according to Pardo, is one with a vent, port, or valve in front. While intended to make it easier to breathe, those apparatuses expel air without filtering it, posing a danger to those around the wearer. 

“That is basically

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Port Authority Wants to Fine Travelers $50 for No Mask

Illustration for article titled You Could Be Fined $50 for Not Wearing a Mask in NYCs Travel Hubs

Photo: Byron Smith (Getty Images)

Heads up for folks catching a train, plane, or bus in the New York or New Jersey area: Starting today, the Port Authority is implementing a $50 penalty for travelers caught without a face covering within their facilities.

While it still wants to put the “primary emphasis” on keeping mask-wearing voluntary for all riders, the agency noted in a memo put out last week that anyone caught failing to wear a mask or face covering “appropriately” could now be liable for a “recommended” $50 fine. The new mandate applies to all facilities under the Port Authority’s purview—that includes the LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports, PATH stations, and the agency’s namesake bus terminal in Midtown Manhattan, among others.

What’s a bit unclear is who, exactly, will enforce these fines. As Gothamist noted, the announcement from the Port Authority somewhat echos the MTA’s announcement back in September that it would issue its own $50 fines for those caught running maskless on the city’s subway systems. At the time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo enlisted the help of NYPD officers to wrangle these riders, despite the fact that these same officers had been historically mask-averse. MTA Chairman Pat Foye later responded to these critiques by saying that cops, too, could be subject to these same fines.

While we don’t know how many fines have been issued under the MTA or the Port Authority’s mandates (yet), hopefully, this will be enough to encourage the currently unmasked masses in some of New York’s boroughs to reconsider covering up their face before they leave the house.

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Refuse public transport to anyone without mask, CDC says

  • The CDC “strongly recommends” all passengers and staff wear a face mask on public transport including airplanes, ships, trains, buses, and taxis, it said in guidance on Monday.
  • “Conveyance operators transporting people should refuse boarding to anyone not wearing a mask,” it said.
  • The guidance is roughly in line with existing practices around the country, but it is stricter than any previous CDC guidance.
  • The guidance comes more than four months after the World Health Organization said people “should be encouraged” to wear face masks on public transport.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Public transport operators in the US should refuse to allow anyone onboard without a mask, apart from in exceptional circumstances, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday.

The CDC “strongly recommends” all passengers and staff wear a face mask on airplanes, ships, trains, buses, subways, ride-shares, and taxis, it said.

This includes waiting and boarding locations, such as airports, train stations, and ferry terminals.

The new guidance is roughly in line with existing practices around the country, but it is stricter than any previous CDC guidance.

Traveling on public transport increases the risk of spreading COVID-19 because people are in close contact, often for a long period of time, and may touch the same surfaces, the CDC said. 

“Conveyance operators transporting people should refuse boarding to anyone not wearing a mask and require all people onboard, whether passengers or employees, to wear masks for the duration of travel.”

The guidance comes more than four months after the World Health Organization said people “should be encouraged” to wear face masks on public transport.

In September, the CDC drafted an order that would have made its new guidelines compulsory, but it was blocked by the White House, two federal health officials told the New York Times on October 9.

Read more: Republican Party officials hid COVID-19 mask purchases by labeling them ‘building maintenance’ in federal disclosures

Staying 6 feet away from other passengers “may be difficult if not impossible” on buses and flights, the CDC said in its new guidance.

Public transport means that local transmission can quickly spread to other states and even other countries when infected people travel without wearing masks, according to the CDC.

“Broad and routine utilization of masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel more safely even during this pandemic,” the CDC said.

“Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings,” the CDC said. Masks should cover both the nose and mouth, it added.

In June, the CDC recommended people cover their faces if they have to go out in public – but didn’t make this a requirement. 

Face masks were made compulsory on public transport in Germany in April. The UK, Spain, France, Italy, and Greece are among countries that have since introduced the same policy.

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