As more activities and services resume after the circuit breaker lifts from 2 June 2020, the use of masks will continue to be mandatory when people go outside their homes. The use of masks that closely and completely cover the nose and mouth will be required as a default. With effect from 2 June, face shields will be treated differently from masks, and will be allowed only for specific exempt groups or settings.
2. COVID-19 is spread predominantly through droplets. The design of face shields typically leaves a gap between the face shield and the face. Masks that are worn closely and completely over the nose and mouth do not have such gaps. During the circuit breaker, face shields were allowed to be worn, in place of masks. But with the re-opening of our economy and society, we can expect more activities and close contact amongst people, including on public transport. So masks will now be required as the default.
3. In some situations, the wearing of masks may not be practical. In such situations, face shields may be worn. The face shields must be worn properly so that it covers the entire face, from the forehead to below the chin, wrapping around the sides of the face. The groups which can wear face shields are as follows:
- Children twelve years and below, who may have difficulty wearing and keeping face masks on for a prolonged period of time;
- Persons who have health conditions that may result in breathing or other medical difficulties when a mask is worn for a prolonged period of time; and
- Persons who are speaking to a group in a classroom or lecture-style setting, where they largely remain at the spot from which they are speaking, and are able to maintain a safe distance away from any other persons.
4. We currently exempt persons doing television broadcasts from having to wear face masks or face shields. We will continue with this exemption, provided such activities are done in a safe and controlled environment, e.g. safe distancing is observed vis-à-vis other persons, and safe management practices are followed throughout the recording or filming process.
5. In certain settings, face shields may be worn on top of a mask to provide additional protection. For example, wearing a shield can help to protect one’s eyes from droplets that may contain virus particles, and can also prevent the mask from getting wet. It may also help to stop people from adjusting their masks or touching their faces.
6. The general public are still advised to stay at home and avoid going out where possible. However, for those who need to go out, the wearing of masks, in combination with other preventive measures such as hand hygiene and safe distancing, remain important to help reduce and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to exercise flexibility in enforcement for groups that may have difficulties wearing a face mask or shield, including children with special needs and young children aged two and above. In particular, mask-wearing is not recommended for young children below the age of two for safety reasons.
7. As more activities and services gradually resume, we urge everyone to play their part by wearing masks, observing good personal hygiene, and adhering to safe distancing and safe management measures.