The World Health Organisation has recently changed its advice on whether or not people should wear masks. The advice now is that masks should be worn in public where social distancing is not possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Monday, 20 April: Hawaii residents must wear a face mask when in public places, using public transportation or ordering at a drive-through. Violators could face up to a $5,000 fine or up to a year in prison, according to Governor David Ige's order.
Monday, 20 April: Several Bay Area counties join neighbouring counties already requiring the public to wear facial coverings or masks in public, including in essential businesses and on public transit. The ordinance is effective as of Friday, with enforcement going into effect on Wednesday, 22 April at 8am
Monday, 20 April: Connecticut residents over the age of two must wear a face mask in public if they cannot maintain six feet of distance from others, effective 20 April. Employees and customers of any age must also wear face masks inside essential businesses.
Saturday, 18 April: Australia received 58 million face masks, which will be distributed to healthcare workers. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the new stock is for those who will benefit from the masks, including frontline workers and Australians who are sick.
Saturday, 18 April: Essential workers in Rhode Island must wear a cloth face mask while working unless they are able to maintain six feet of distance from others. Businesses are to provide facial coverings to employees.
Friday, 17 April: Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in a public place. The ordinance includes anybody over the age of 2 and able to medically tolerate a mask. The order goes into effect on Friday, 17 April at 8pm.
Friday, 17 April: Sonoma County Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase signed an order that states the public wear facial coverings before entering indoor facilities other than their homes, any enclosed open spaces or while outdoors and unable to maintain at least six feet of distance between people. The ordinance includes children aged 2 and older. The order goes into effect on Friday, 17 April at 12:01am.
Wednesday, 14 April: Governor Gina Raimondo signed an emergency declaration requiring face masks in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Employers must also provide employees with face masks or the materials to make one.
Wednesday, 8 April: New Jersey became the first state to order that all customers and employees wear a face mask while inside essential businesses, on construction sites and using public transportation. Businesses are to turn away customers who do not comply.
Thursday, 2 April: Online giant Amazon has announced that it is no longer accepting public orders for N95 face masks in its effort to prioritize essential supplies, including coronavirus tests, to hospitals and government agencies. It's also forgoing a profit from such sales.
Two of the biggest health authorities in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have different views on whether we should be wearing face masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests anyone should wear a cloth face covering in public where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as in a grocery store or chemist and "especially in areas of significant community-based transmission".
However, each country has specific recommendations for wearing masks. Out of 124 countries that were analysed, 81 countries – or 65% – have either made mask-wearing a recommendation or mandatory in part or all of their country. One in three countries researched (33%) have made mask-wearing in public mandatory, some with heavy fines if people don't comply.
There is also a correlation between mask-wearing countries and a moving regression of the COVID-19 cases and death rates, which means wearing a mask could be slowing the spread of coronavirus.
For example, the United States has recently recommended the wearing of cloth masks throughout the country. The epicentre, New York, has made masks mandatory. Since the recommendation came into place on 3 April, the US has seen a steady decline in the growth rate of COVID-19.
Statista chart Image: Supplied
Alternatively, in countries such as the United Kingdom, where masks are still not recommended, the growth rate of COVID-19 continues to increase despite other measures being put in place. Currently, trend data in the UK illustrates that since the onset of the virus in the country, growth has exponentially increased, although since 3 April, there have been periods when the number of new cases has been lower than the day before.
In Italy, face masks were made mandatory in some parts of the country on 6 April 2020. Since then, the growth rate has steadily decreased. Before that time, Italy had one of the highest growth rates of COVID-19 in the world. However, the nation has seen a significant drop since the new measure was introduced.
Many Western countries are recommending cloth masks over surgical masks due to the shortage in supply, following measures put in place by Eastern countries. This global shift to recommending face masks in many countries around the world has seen a decrease in their national growth rate of COVID-19.
Although other preventative measures have been put in place, face masks are an additional source of intervention that could be slowing the spread of the disease.
How to make your own face mask
If P2 or N95 masks are hard to find or out of stock online, consider sewing your own. Guides like this one from The New York Times outline the steps that can have you wearing a cloth mask in an hour or two. If you have a small swatch of fabric about the size of a napkin, shoelaces, scissors, and a needle and thread, you can make a mask without additional supplies.
Your face mask questions answered
Do I need to wear a face mask?
While some countries have mandatory face mask rules and others do not, in Australia, the Department of Health advises that most people will not benefit from wearing a surgical mask. Only those who are sick, are suspected to have coronavirus or are healthcare workers should wear a mask.
What face mask should I buy?
If you are a healthcare worker, you should use an N95 or P2 mask. If you are unwell, you should use a surgical mask.
What are the differences between each type of face mask?
Cloth masks: Cloth masks prevent large droplets released by the wearer from reaching the environment. They do not filter bacteria or viruses. Cloth masks minimise the risk of transmission by people who don't have symptoms through talking, coughing or sneezing.
Surgical masks/disposable masks: Large droplets released by the individual wearing the mask do not reach the environment. Large droplets and splashes, which contain bacteria or viruses, are also prevented from reaching the wearer. Surgical masks are able to filter 95% of bacteria.
N95 respirators and P2 masks: They block out both large and small droplets from reaching your mouth and nose. N95 masks also filter out 95% of particles (including particles as small as 0.3 microns). N95 masks are tight fitting and are ideal for healthcare professionals as they can be fitted properly. These masks shouldn't be used for extended periods.
KN95 masks: These masks filter 95% of bacteria and are the Chinese standard for the N95 mask. They can block out both small and large droplets, filter air particles and help stop the spread of the virus.
DS2 and DL2 masks: These are Japanese standard masks for protection against dust. They can filter 95% of airborne particles. They offer the same level of protection as P2 masks.
Depending on your location, different face mask types are more widely used. For example, in the United States and Canada, N95 are common; in Australia and New Zealand, you'll see P2 masks more often; in China, KN95 is the standard. Mask manufacturer 3M, which specialises in filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) masks, offers the following explanation of the main differences between each mask type.
Korea 1st Class
NaCl and paraffin oil
NaCl and paraffin oil
Total inward leakage (TIL)
≤ 8% leakage
≤ 8% leakage
≤ 8% leakage
≤ 8% leakage
Inward Leakage measured and included in User Instructions
≤ 343 Pa
≤ 70 Pa (at 30L/min)≤ 240 Pa (at 95 L/min)≤ 500 Pa (clogging)
Disposable masks or surgical masks are not as effective as N95 or P2 masks. However, if you are a healthcare worker, or have flu-like symptoms, you should use one. The best way to use a disposable mask is to not touch your face, nose or eyes while you have the mask on. Don't touch the mask and use the elastic to remove it. Dispose of the mask after one use and wash your hands after disposing of it. Following these precautionary steps can increase the effectiveness of disposable masks.
Is a face mask effective?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when worn in a community setting, a face mask is effective in slowing down the spread of the virus. However, it is not a measure that should be taken instead of social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other preventive measures put in place. A face mask is most effective when it is used in conjunction with preventive measures. Like a flu vaccine, masks help reduce your chance of spreading the virus, but there is no guarantee that you will be safe.
How often should I buy a new face mask? How long do they last?
It depends on the type you are using. If you're using a cloth face mask, you should wash it after every use. However, if you are using a disposable mask, it should be disposed of straight after each use.
Will a mask protect me from COVID-19?
Wearing a face mask is not a guaranteed source of protection against the virus; however, it can assist in slowing the spread. Face masks are a great precautionary step to take, especially if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (such as a cold, coughing or sneezing, fever and shortness of breath). Wearing a mask will help avoid spreading germs.
Health tips for wearing face masks
The WHO and Department of Health have various tips for wearing face masks. These include the following:
Wear a face mask if you are sick
Wear a mask if you are taking care of someone who has the virus or is demonstrating virus-like symptoms
Wear a mask if you are a frontline worker
Wash your hands before and after wearing a mask
Disposable masks should be disposed of in closed bins after every use
Do not keep touching the mask; if you touch it, wash or sanitise your hands straight after
Do not share masks
How to fit your mask properly
When putting a mask, a tight seal should be created against your nose and mouth. Use the instructions provided with your mask for correct fit. You should test that a seal has been created by exhaling heavily. Air should not escape through any cracks. If a seal hasn't been created, re-fit and test again.
How to remove your mask properly
First, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before putting on your mask. When you're ready to take it off, do not touch the front of the mask – it could be contaminated. Instead, remove it by pulling the bottom strap over the back of your head, followed by the top strap. Discard the mask and then wash your hands.
If masks are useful in protecting us against the virus, why are we being told to not buy them?
Like washing your hands properly and practising social distancing, masks can slow the spread of COVID-19. However, they are not in abundance. Currently, there is a shortage of masks in supply, which means they need to be rationed and given to those who are working on the frontline or showing symptoms of the virus. When there is an increase in the supply of masks, they need to be first made available to those who are at a higher risk and then to the general public.
Should I share a mask with my family?
No. The bottom line is that you shouldn't be sharing a mask with anyone. Even if it is your partner or child and you live in the same household, this is something you shouldn't do. As the virus is spreading so rapidly, extra measures need to be taken and good hygiene practices need to be adopted. Sharing a mask will reduce the effectiveness of this preventative measure.
Toyota says the HiAce carries the best resale value in the LCV segment. They are also the best-selling. This latest generation HiAce is better in every single way; reviewers appraised it highly (one reviewer even gave it a 100% rating, the highest we've ever seen).
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
Important information about this website
finder.com.au is one of Australia's leading comparison websites. We compare from a wide set of banks, insurers and product issuers. We value our editorial independence and follow editorial guidelines.
finder.com.au has access to track details from the product issuers listed on our sites. Although we provide information on the products offered by a wide range of issuers, we don't cover every available product or service.
Please note that the information published on our site should not be construed as personal advice and does not consider your personal needs and circumstances. While our site will provide you with factual information and general advice to help you make better decisions, it isn't a substitute for professional advice. You should consider whether the products or services featured on our site are appropriate for your needs. If you're unsure about anything, seek professional advice before you apply for any product or commit to any plan.
Products marked as 'Promoted' or 'Advertisement' are prominently displayed either as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular product, provider or feature. Finder may receive remuneration from the Provider if you click on the related link, purchase or enquire about the product. Finder's decision to show a 'promoted' product is neither a recommendation that the product is appropriate for you nor an indication that the product is the best in its category. We encourage you to use the tools and information we provide to compare your options.
Where our site links to particular products or displays 'Go to site' buttons, we may receive a commission, referral fee or payment when you click on those buttons or apply for a product. You can learn more about how we make money here.
When products are grouped in a table or list, the order in which they are initially sorted may be influenced by a range of factors including price, fees and discounts; commercial partnerships; product features; and brand popularity. We provide tools so you can sort and filter these lists to highlight features that matter to you.
We try to take an open and transparent approach and provide a broad-based comparison service. However, you should be aware that while we are an independently owned service, our comparison service does not include all providers or all products available in the market.
Some product issuers may provide products or offer services through multiple brands, associated companies or different labelling arrangements. This can make it difficult for consumers to compare alternatives or identify the companies behind the products. However, we aim to provide information to enable consumers to understand these issues.
Providing or obtaining an estimated insurance quote through us does not guarantee you can get the insurance. Acceptance by insurance companies is based on things like occupation, health and lifestyle. By providing you with the ability to apply for a credit card or loan, we are not guaranteeing that your application will be approved. Your application for credit products is subject to the Provider's terms and conditions as well as their application and lending criteria.