LONDON—The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called upon all travelers to don protective face masks to show they “wear to care” in the new normal of traveling.
As countries transition from lockdowns to reopening their borders, the wearing of face masks helps signal the return of safer travels, while also providing personal protection for users as well as those around them.
The advice from WTTC in favor of mandatory mask wearing comes from evidence that countries which are recovering faster and avoid second COVID-19 spikes are those where the use of face masks have been widely enforced and encouraged.
Following medical guidance from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, WTTC advises the wearing of masks on all forms of transport throughout the entire traveler journey, as well as when visiting any interior venue or those with restricted movement which results in close personal contact of two meters or less.
WTTC has asked governments around the globe to enforce the wearing of face masks, as well as enlisting the support of the private sector to remind customers of their obligations to protect their health and that of fellow travelers.
Travelers around the world are being encouraged to join in the WTTC social media campaign which is launching with the hashtag #wear2care.
Embracing the use of face masks will reduce the risk of transmission, protect the user and those around them, as well as reintroducing a sense of normality as we learn to live with the virus until a vaccine is found.
The new recommendations follow in the wake of WTTC recently issuing its new guidelines for Safe & Seamless Travel including testing and tracing to ensure people can enjoy Safe Travels in the “new normal”.
Frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer complement the use of face masks which can significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The safety and hygiene of travelers and those who work in travel and tourism is of paramount importance, which is why we now strongly recommend masks being mandatory. ‘Wear to care’ promotes the protection of face mask users and visibly shows they care about the welfare and safety of their fellow travelers, which will help save lives and encourage the return of Safe Travels.
“The wearing of masks should not be politicized,” Guevara said. “Wearing a mask needs to become part of everyday life to ensure everyone enjoys traveling 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.”
Effective Protection Against Virus
Ramon Sánchez, Principal Investigator and Research Associate at Harvard University, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “Wearing face masks has been proven to provide the highest level of protection against transmission at 82 percent. Constant hand hygiene and surface cleaning, which kills more than 90 percent of viruses that are found on surfaces, also prevents the virus from reaching the face from the hands. The public should keep a two-meter 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 percent. Mechanical ventilation, such as air-conditioning, decreases it by 80 percent, while going outdoors proves more effective by decreasing the viral concentration between 90 percent and 95 percent.”
WTTC has led a series of initiatives designed to rebuild global consumer confidence and encourage the return of Safe Travels.