On Tuesday, January 12th, the Bavarian cabinet decided that FFP2 masks should be worn. It should apply to local public transport and retail. The regulation should come into force next Monday. Experts disagree about the usefulness of the measure.
“In principle, I think the idea is good,” says virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit. However, it would have to be linked to offers: on the one hand, free access to such medical masks, on the other hand, instructions for correct use. “Without such offers, I see it critically.” Virologist Alexander Kekulé also spoke out in favor of FFP2 masks: “Of course, an FFP2 mask is much safer than mouth and nose protection, which is often worn very loosely,” says he. Many people crowded into a tight space, especially on public transport. With an FFP2 mask, the risk of infection decreases significantly.
FFP2 masks were not originally intended for laypeople
Johannes Knobloch, head of the hospital hygiene department at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, was more skeptical. “I don’t think that makes that much difference,” says the hygiene expert. “In the worst case, the situation can even worsen because people feel more protected and are less cautious.”
A FFP2 mask requires great expertise, it comes from occupational safety and is not intended for laypeople. “If it is not put on absolutely tight, it does not work better than a simple disposable mask,” says Knobloch. The breathing resistance is greater with the denser FFP2 masks than with the simple plastic or self-sewn fabric masks. “I always breathe through a fabric mask at least partially, but if there is a small gap somewhere on the face with an FFP2 mask, almost all of the air goes through there – and with it the virus.”
It is also unclear to many people that beards cannot wear an FFP2 mask tightly, explained Knobloch. “Men can only wear it with clean-shaven skin.” Even the beginning of a beard can pose a problem because there is a gap between skin and mask through which air flows in and out unfiltered. “With an FFP2 obligation, beards should not be allowed in shops and public transport.” The measure may be well meant, but ultimately only one thing really helps: staying at home.
dpa / jb