Amid the conflicting and changing information about COVID-19 protection, here's a new one: Airlines may ban you from wearing masks made of cloth.
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On the heels of news that a line of N-95 masks manufactured in China failed to meet government safety standards, some airlines around the world are telling passengers that those washable masks many made do with throughout the pandemic may not be safe enough either.
Finnish airline Finnair is the most recent to ban cloth masks after the same move was announced by several other European carriers. Lufthansa hasn’t allowed cloth masks on flights to and from Germany since Feb. 1. Switzerland’s Swissair has a similar policy. Air France and Croatia Airlines also require surgical masks.
"The safety of our customers and employees is our first priority. Fabric masks are slightly less efficient at protecting people from infection than surgical masks," Finnair said in a recent statement.
To date, no U.S. carrier has required banned fabric masks, although American carriers do have limitations in place: Almost none allow bandanas, ski masks, balaclavas and scarves to be used as masks.
“The filtration effectiveness of cloth masks is generally lower than that of medical masks and respirators; however, cloth masks may provide some protection if well designed and used correctly,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last year.
Currently, masks are required by federal statute in airports, airplanes, and on public transportation until at least January 2022.