Wearing a Mask
Face Covering FAQS
When am I required to wear a mask?
As of November 5, 2020, a new Executive Order on face coverings went into effect requiring Maine people to wear face coverings in public settings, regardless of the ability to maintain physical distance. The new order strengthens an earlier one stating that face coverings must be worn only when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. The order identifies public settings as:
- Indoor spaces that are accessible to the public, including but not limited to grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies and healthcare facilities
- Outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, parking lots, sidewalks, athletic and sports venues and other areas such as lines for takeout service where the public typically gathers in a smaller area
- Public transportation such as a taxi, Uber, Lyft, ride-sharing or similar service
- Ferry, bus, or train
- Any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area
Cloth face coverings are not required for children under age 2, a child in a child care setting, or for anyone who has trouble breathing or related medical conditions, or who is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Even if you wear a face mask, you should also use other prevention methods.
What type of mask should I choose?
In order to be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, your mask should:
- Cover both your nose and mouth
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops
- Have multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for unrestricted breathing
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or shape changes
- Your mask SHOULD NOT have exhalation valves or vents, which allow particles to escape. You should also avoid using masks that are intended for healthcare workers, such as N95 respirators or surgical masks.
- If you wear glasses, find a mask that fits closely over your nose or one that has a nose wire to limit fogging.
- If you wear a gaiter, make sure it has two layers or fold it to have two layers to ensure that it is effective.
Why are masks or face coverings important?
Face masks protect others. Masks are recommended as a barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. These droplets are believed to contribute to the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Wearing a covering over your nose and mouth reduces the spray of the droplets, protecting the people around you.
Some people who are infected with COVID-19 do not show symptoms. However, asymptomatic individuals can still spread the virus to others, who may go on to experience symptoms.
COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Are cloth masks effective?
Different types of masks serve different purposes, but cloth masks are highly effective for the general public when worn properly. The average person who is not working in a medical environment with COVID-19 patients should wear a cloth mask to save protective equipment for medical workers.
Can a business turn me away for not wearing mask?
Yes. Governor Mills issued an Executive Order on November 5, 2020 requiring owners and operators of all indoor public settings in Maine to post plainly visible signs notifying entrants of the requirement to wear cloth face coverings. You may be denied entry or service if you do not comply with the requirement.
Are masks safe to wear?
You may have heard some people suggesting that carbon dioxide from exhaling gets trapped under the cloth and can make you sick. This isn't true. Properly fitted masks offer appropriate airflow while still covering your nose and mouth. This makes the accumulation of carbon dioxide impossible.
If I've already had COVID-19, do I still need to wear a mask?
If you've had a coronavirus before or had an antibody test come up positive, you may believe that you don't need to wear a mask. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no way to know whether having coronavirus once provides immunity from the virus again or how long your immunity might last. This means that you could potentially catch the disease again and spread it to others.
Where can I find more scientific research about wearing masks?
Texas A&M Study: Face Coverings Critical in Preventing Spread of COVID-19: Researchers estimate that the measure prevented more than 66,000 infections in New York City in less than a month.
Additional studies supporting face coverings as effective means of limiting spread:
- Cloth Masks May Prevent Transmission of COVID-19: An Evidence-Based, Risk-Based Approach (Annals of Internal Medicine)
- A rapid systematic review of the efficacy of face coverings and respirators against coronaviruses and other respiratory transmissible viruses for the community, healthcare workers and sick patients (International Journal of Nursing Studies)
- Face Coverings Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review (pre-printed prior to medical peer review)