Face masks in the Netherlands
In some countries it has become quite normal to wear face masks when out in public. However, face masks in the Netherlands are not (yet) very commonly worn. The face mask is currently only mandatory on public transport. Two cities (Amsterdam and Rotterdam) have recently introduced a face mask obligation in designated areas. But in most places the Dutch don’t have to wear them.
Why no general face mask obligation in the Netherlands?
The Dutch government feels that wearing a face mask might give the people a false feeling of security. More important than the face mask, they say, is to keep 1.5 meters distance from other people. And follow the other precautionary measures.
Another important issue is that most people do not wear the face mask the way you’re supposed to (covering mouth and nose completely), leading to even more risk according to our government.
I recently traveled through countries where a face mask is required; Germany, Austria and Italy. I must say that it was easier than I thought to wear a face mask in public. But I honestly admit that I wore the same face mask multiple times, folding it after use and putting it in my bag (not proper procedure!) and I did not always wash my hands before and after using the face mask. There are probably many people who deal with the face mask obligation in the same way, i.e. not sufficiently.
Moreover, it seems like many people wearing face masks think that maintaining personal distance doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a mask. Many people nearly bumped into me in supermarkets, and did not seem to care.
Will there be a general face mask obligation in the Netherlands?
In the long run I do think so. With the virus on the rise again, I think that many people will support a general face mask requirement in public.
It is not only the effect of the face mask, but the role the face mask can play as a reminder that we have to continue to be careful.
But even if the face mask becomes mandatory in public the other rules will stay in place – and important to follow.