Supports amendments to the rules on who and when must wear face masks

The Ministry of Health explains that there is no clear evidence of the persistence of immunity after Covid-19, but it is estimated that it is virtually impossible to re-infect the new coronavirus within six months of developing Covid-19.

In view of the above, it is established that if a person can prove that he or she has had Covid-19 in the last six months by presenting the results of an antibody laboratory test and an extract from the patient’s medical history, this can be avoided by oral and nasal cover.

However, in the case of public events organized in museums, libraries, cultural centers, exhibition halls, open-air stages, theater buildings, concert halls, cinemas, congress and conference centers and associated outdoor spaces, if visitors are in fixed, personalized seating during the event, mouth and nose pads do not need to be used. When walking to or leaving a seat, a person must comply with the two-meter distance conditions.

At the same time, the amendments clarify that mouth and nose shields must be used indoors in public places, such as shops, museums and exhibitions, but their use outdoors is not mandatory.

It has also been clarified that mouth and nose pads may be used not only by children under the age of 13, but also by persons with special needs, such as obvious movement disorders or mental health problems resulting in a person lacking the ability or skills to use a face mask.

The Ministry also points out that the effects of alcohol or other intoxicating substances are not grounds for not using a mouth and nose mask. There is also no scientific basis that the use of a face mask can worsen the health of people with respiratory, cardiovascular or other chronic diseases. Therefore, it is indicated that if a person cannot use a medical or non-medical face mask, it is possible to use a face shield. Face shields can also be used by people with speech impairments.

At the same time, changes have been made to the effect that mouth and nose masks must also be used in a taxi or car used for the commercial transport of passengers. The face mask must be worn by both the driver and the passenger. The exception applies if the occupants of the vehicle are separated by a barrier.

In support of these changes, the Ministry explains that taxis and passenger cars used for commercial passenger transport, as well as public transport, have high passenger exchanges and limited opportunities to travel, which increase the risk of illness for both the driver and passengers.

In this respect, commercial passenger transport by taxi and car is comparable to public transport. In some vehicles, the front seats are already separated from the rear seats by a physical barrier, so it is not necessary to use mouth and nose pads.

According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the face shield should fit snugly on the face and be easily replaced if it is dirty or dirty without contaminating the hands. The cover must also be made of a material that can be washed at 60 degrees to eliminate possible contamination by micro-organisms and must provide adequate respiratory droplet retention while ensuring free breathing.

The Ministry explains that such conditions cannot be provided by scarves, handkerchiefs or other adapted covers, as they do not fit snugly on the face and cannot be easily replaced without contaminating the hands. These products are also not always washable at 60 degrees and, given the materials from which scarves and shawls are usually made, do not provide sufficient respiratory restraint.

Fully meet such conditions medical face masks that are certified, emphasizes the ministry. The necessary protection may also be provided by the use of a properly made non-medical mask made of at least three layers of suitable material with ties to secure it behind the ears or to tie it behind the head.

The Ministry emphasizes that the effectiveness of face masks has been proven in limiting the spread of Covd-19, therefore a medical or hygienic face mask should be chosen as a priority for protection. Including employers providing services where large numbers of people congregate, face masks should be the primary choice for employee protection. If necessary, if face masks are not available or their use causes significant health problems, a person may use face shields for protection.

It has already been reported that new restrictions have recently been introduced due to the increase in the incidence of Covid-19, including the mandatory wearing of mouth and nose masks in a number of public places.

These regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers have yet to be announced by publishing them in the official publication “Latvijas vēstnesis”. They will enter into force on the day following their announcement.

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