TIRANA, October 14
As it was announced a few days ago, face masks will become mandatory outdoor starting Thursday, October 15th. In addition to the new measure, the Institute of Public Health published on Wednesday an official guideline on the mandatory use of face masks and face coverings when outside the home.
Chairwoman of the Public Health Institute Albana Fico read the guideline that defines the correct use of the face mask/covering when to use it when to remove it or modify its use, exemptions, and fines.
Fico highlighted that the mandatory use of face masks should be considered only as a complementary measure and not as a replacement for established preventive measures. Such measures include physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene, and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes, and mouth.
Correct use of the face mask/covering defines the following
The mask should completely cover the nose, mouth, and chin
Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer before wearing or removing the mask.
The mask should not be touched when applied (unclear instruction)
Remove the mask from behind. Avoid touching the front of the mask. Hold both of the external sides, lift and fold the mask
Throw the mask in the trash (before doing that, remember to cut ear loops to avoid injuring birds and wildlife that can get tangled in the ear loops of a single-use face mask).
Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer after removing the mask.
Reusable non-medical face masks should be washed after each use using a common detergent at 60 °C.
The reusable non-medical face masks should be kept in a bag until washing it.
When to keep the face mask
People always should carry a face mask and use it:
Anytime when out of home
Children aged 11 and up
During all day when out of home
In every shop, supermarket, or commercial environment
In every public and private vehicle when there are other people than the driver
When walking on the street
When staying in open public spaces such as parks or squares
During work in the office in all the public and private institutions, including theaters, cinemas, museums, libraries, etc.
When leaving and returning home and in the elevator
Before and after eating in bars and restaurants
When driving the motorcycle with another person, who’s not a family
When taking home care of a family member infected with COVID-19
In all the religious institutions
People that have been cured of SARS COVID-19
In educational or health institutions according to previous recommendations
Modification in the use of the face mask/covering
The use of a face mask cannot be possible in every case. Thus, people are allowed to remove the mask or modify its use in the following cases:
For personal identification purposes required by the police, bank, post, court officials
When eating or drinking in bar/restaurants, but always wear the face mask when entering or leaving the premises
During dental procedures, but always wear the face mask when entering or leaving the dental clinic
By people leading mass or religious ceremonies, rituals, or practices.
People with speaking/ hearing impairments who cannot use specific transparent masks during communication
For age verification as required by the staff of shops or supermarkets during the purchase of age-restricted products such as tobacco or alcohol.
Workers working on open outdoor areas when it’s possible to keep a physical distance, not less than 1.5 meters.
TV show guests when it’s possible to keep a physical distance, not less than 1.5 meters.
Exemptions from using face masks
In all cases when the use of the mask harms health as recommended by the family doctor
People with diseases/impairments that make them incapable of using (wearing/removing) the face mask without help
While exercising/doing sport activity
People who are alone while riding a bicycle, motorcycle, or electric scooter
When driving alone or with family members
When doing activity when the mask can become wet such as swimming in pools, lakes, water bodies
At home with close family members
Fico said that those who cannot wear a face mask due to medical reasons will be required to provide verification for their claims.
Those who fail to wear face mask will be subject to a Lek 3,000 fine the first time they break the law and Lek 5,000 the second time.
Source/Photo Credit: Health Ministry