Updated: Feb 28
Here is what you need to know about the new mask guidelines in France that took effect in late January 2021.
As new variants of Covid-19 spread around the world, a number of countries are tightening their requirements about the type of mask people should wear.
In late January, the French authorities advised people to choose higher-quality masks that fit certain standards. Why is this happening, and what are the new recommendations?
Why are only certain kinds of masks recommended?
New variants of the Covid-19 virus may be easier to transmit – this means that even a smaller amount of pathogen inhaled can cause disease.
The variant B.1.1.7, discovered in the UK, the B.1.351 variant identified in South Africa, and the P.1 variant found in Brazil, all seem to be more contagious, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For this reason, governments around the world are starting to not just require mask wearing, but to specify which type of masks are preferable or required.
All masks are not created equal. The level of filtration matters, and so does design. Masks of higher-quality materials and with more layers filter out a larger proportion of pathogens. In addition, how closely a mask fits on the wearer’s face is crucial. Masks that are too loose can let in unfiltered air and so pose a higher risk.
There are higher-quality cloth masks that fit the Category I standard.
In response to these developments, French authorities have issued new guidelines. Wearing a mask was already required in most public spaces in France. But wearing the right kind of mask ensures more reliable protection for the wearer and those around them.
Which masks are recommended in France?
The national Health Advisory Council in France issued new recommendations stating that people should only wear masks that fit the “Category I” standard, The Local reports.
Category I includes all masks that filter over 90% of airborne particles. They should have passed a test proving their efficacy in order to qualify.
What kinds of masks can be certified as Category 1? Most single-use surgical masks fit the standard, as do the more effective FFP2 masks (also known in the United States as N95 masks).
Cloth Category I masks can be reused, offering an eco-friendly option to stay protected.
The majority of Category I masks are single-use. Most cloth masks do not qualify as Category I. But there are also higher-quality cloth masks that fit this standard.
How can you find reusable Category I masks?
The common blue surgical masks and higher-filtration FFP2 masks all need to be discarded after wearing them for a certain period.
But cloth Category I masks can be reused, offering an easy and eco-friendly option to stay protected against new virus variants. These masks are an economical solution for organizations that want to promote safety without having to continuously supply large amounts of single-use masks.
Advent Life offers three types of Category I cloth masks. All have been tested in France and proven to have 97% aerosol filtration. They are officially recognized as Category I according to the French Health Advisory Council’s new advice.
Tests also showed that these masks can be washed up to 50 times without losing their efficacy.
Tests also showed that these masks can be washed up to 50 times without losing their efficacy. In addition, they can be styled and branded with an organization’s logo.
As guidelines on face masks become stricter in France and around the world, certified Category I cloth masks offer a smart, ecological option for individuals and organisations.