Face masks should be mandatory for all forms of travel and in any indoor spaces from hotels and restaurants to cruise ships and bars, says the head of the world’s tourism and trade body.
Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which advises the G20, said the wearing of face masks should be the “new norm” on all forms of transport including planes, trains, buses and hire and chauffeured cars.
Masks should also be mandatory “when visiting any interior venue or those with restricted movement which results in close personal contact of two meters or less,” she said.
This would include hotels (when in public spaces but not your own rooms), restaurants (when not eating), bars (when not drinking) and any other indoor public space.
The WTTC said it was necessary to restore confidence in travel and revive tourism from the economic damage caused by the pandemic and until an effective vaccine was found.
It follows medical guidance to the WTTC from Harvard’s school of public health and evidence that countries with widespread compulsory use of masks have seen faster recoveries from spikes in Covid-19 infections.
The WTTC is to launch a global campaign to promote mandatory use of face masks under the tag that donning facemasks shows that people “‘wear to care” in protecting not only other tourists but also staff who may be serving them.
The WTTC represents 400 of the biggest travel and hospitality businesses in the world.
Ms Guevara, a former tourism minister with the Mexican Government, said: “The wearing of masks should not be politicised. Wearing a mask needs to become part of everyday life to ensure everyone enjoys travelling in safety until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found.
“We implore the private sector and global governments to encourage their use so wearing a mask becomes the new normal.”
Ramon Sánchez, Principal Investigator and Research Associate at Harvard University, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “Wearing facemasks have been proven to provide the highest level of protection against transmission at 82%.
“Constant hand hygiene and surface cleaning, which kills more than 90% of viruses that are found on surfaces, also prevents the virus from reaching the face from the hands.
“The public should keep a two metre distance whenever they can, however if that simply isn’t possible, people should increase the ventilation around them.
“Inside buildings this can be done by opening doors and windows which decreases the viral concentration by more than 70%.
“Mechanical ventilation, such as air conditioning decreases it by 80%, while going outdoors proves more effective by decreasing the viral concentration between 90% and 95%.”