A participant wears a decorated face mask during a Black Trans Lives Matter rally in London, Britain, June 27, 2020. (Representational)(REUTERS)
A participant wears a decorated face mask during a Black Trans Lives Matter rally in London, Britain, June 27, 2020. (Representational)(REUTERS)

From Donald Trump to Black Lives Matter protesters: There’s a mask for everyone

Masks made of cotton and other washable materials have become big sellers, and an emerging fashion item. However, while most people are wearing masks, there are certain requirements a mask must meet to keep you safe from the coronavirus. Read on.
By Associated Press | Edited by: Alfea Jamal
UPDATED ON JUL 17, 2020 03:59 PM IST

They can be colourful or come in basic black, make a political statement or just a funny one. Masks made of cotton and other washable materials have become big sellers, and an emerging fashion item, as face coverings have been increasingly mandated around the world to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Sales are expected to get another boost after Britain and France announced this week that they will require masks in public indoor spaces. That could help France’s textile and luxury goods companies unload a surplus of masks that numbered 20 million in June. In addition, at least 25 U.S. states are requiring masks in many indoor situations. Oregon on Wednesday even began requiring masks outdoors if people can’t stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart.

Face mask coverings to curb the spread of the coronavirus are displayed for sale on a section of 16th Street that's been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP)
Face mask coverings to curb the spread of the coronavirus are displayed for sale on a section of 16th Street that's been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP)

However, while most people are wearing masks, there are certain requirements a mask must meet to keep you safe from the coronavirus. Dr Baller, who appears in a video on the World Health Organisation’s IGTV ,advises that fabric and non-medical masks can be used in public areas where several people are infected with Covid-19 and social distancing of even a metre can’t be achieved. He explained, “These masks act as a barrier so that you can protect those around you. They should ideally be made of at least three layers of fabric.” While masks are sold in stores, if the WHO’s recommendations regarding masks are followed, home made masks are equally effective. Here are the WHO’s recommendations regarding masks:

-The WHO guides that masks should have at least three layers, the inner layer that touches one’s face should be made of an absorbent material like cotton, while the middle should be made of a non-woven fabric like polypropylene. And the outer layer, which is exposed should be made of a non-absorbent materil like a polyester blend or polyester.

-Masks made from gauze, silk and stretchy fabrics should be avoided as they are only 3% efficient in filtering droplets.

- The mask should not be loose, and should fits snugly to your face. If it moves when you speak, you need a better fitting mask.

Other than this, there are certain dos and don’ts to follow when it comes to how to wear a mask.

WHO recommendations about how to and not to wear masks,
WHO recommendations about how to and not to wear masks,

- Before wearing your mask, inspect it, make sure it isn’t damaged or wet.

-Clean your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer (20-30 seconds) or just soap and water (for 40-60 seconds) before you put on your mask.

-Making sure that there are no gaps or space for air to pass between your face and the mask, wear the mask such that it covers you nose, mouth and chin.

- Try to not touch the outside of your mask when outside, if you do constantly sanitize your hands again.

-While removing the mask, sanitize your hands first, lean forward and take the mask off from the elastic bands behind the ears, making sure not to touch your face and eyes. Sanitize your hands again after this.

Masks: The latest accesory

In a sign that masks are becoming a fashion trend, Vogue magazine recently listed 100 “aesthetically pleasing” selections. The fashion magazine’s recommendations include a mask with beaded accents from Susan Alexandra. The cost: $70. Masks made from vintage quilt tops, by Farewell Frances, go for $25.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 16, 2020. (AP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 16, 2020. (AP)

After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began wearing masks that matched her outfits, people watching her on news channels noticed they had a Donna Lewis label on them. The boutique in Alexandria, Virginia, became besieged by purchase orders and soon ran out of the labels, which customers demanded.

The boutique now has a huge backlog of orders, co-owner Chris Lewis said.

“I’m shipping them all over the world now,” Lewis said. “Orders are so furious, I can’t keep up.”

FILE - In this Saturday, July 11, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump wears a face mask as he walks down a hallway during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. When Trump wore a mask publicly for the first time on Saturday, he chose a navy-blue one that bore the presidential seal. It also matched the colour of his suit. (AP)
FILE - In this Saturday, July 11, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump wears a face mask as he walks down a hallway during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. When Trump wore a mask publicly for the first time on Saturday, he chose a navy-blue one that bore the presidential seal. It also matched the colour of his suit. (AP)

Perhaps showing some fashion sense, when President Donald Trump wore a mask publicly for the first time Saturday, he chose a navy-blue one that bore the presidential seal and matched the colour of his suit.

Thanks to mask sales, Etsy, the online crafts marketplace, has seen revenue jump. In April alone, Etsy sold 12 million masks, generating $133 million in sales.

“If face masks were a stand-alone category, it would have been the second biggest category on Etsy in the month of April,” CEO Josh Silverman said.

Second-quarter revenue, to be announced in August, will likely show mask sales are red hot.

Black masks are in highest demand, followed by white and floral patterns, Etsy spokeswoman Lily Cohen said.

“We are seeing lots of unique variations on masks, including personalization with names and monograms ... styles with animal faces or lips,” she said.

There’s also the comical, like the one that says, “Resting mask face.”

A demonstrator wears a face mask during a Black Lives Matter protest at Marble Arch, in London, Britain, July 12, 2020. (REUTERS)
A demonstrator wears a face mask during a Black Lives Matter protest at Marble Arch, in London, Britain, July 12, 2020. (REUTERS)

Also available are masks saying, “Black lives matter” with an image of a raised fist. Some businesses have told employees they can’t wear them, sparking debate about appropriate workplace attire and the desire to show solidarity with the fight against racism.

A protester wears a protective mask during a Black Lives Matter march through a residential neighbourhood calling for racial justice, Monday, July 13, 2020, in Valley Stream, N.Y. (AP)
A protester wears a protective mask during a Black Lives Matter march through a residential neighbourhood calling for racial justice, Monday, July 13, 2020, in Valley Stream, N.Y. (AP)

Masks can show patriotism as well as activism.

In Paris, a firefighter wore a face covering with the colors of the French flag before marching in the Bastille Day parade celebrating the national holiday this week along the Champs Elysees. Others at a protest across town wore yellow masks, representing the yellow vest movement against economic injustice that began in late 2018.

FILE - In this July 14, 2020, file photo, a firefighter wears a face mask with the colors of the French flag, prior to the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris. Masks made of cotton and other washable materials have become a big seller as face coverings have emerged as one of the most effective ways to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. (AP)
FILE - In this July 14, 2020, file photo, a firefighter wears a face mask with the colors of the French flag, prior to the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris. Masks made of cotton and other washable materials have become a big seller as face coverings have emerged as one of the most effective ways to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. (AP)

Workers at restaurants and other businesses are wearing masks with corporate logos. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown wears one showing the state flag.

In Colombia, dozens of fashion companies have pivoted to producing masks, including ones with colourful images of toucans, jaguars and other tropical designs that normally go on expensive swimsuits. South Africans often sport masks made of colourful African fabrics.

But for many consumers, plain white will do.

When Uniqlo, a major Japanese clothing retailer, put its white “cool and dry” masks with breathable fabric on sale in June, shoppers lined up at stores and crashed its website. Supplies sold out in hours.

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