Since my most recent post on the face mask policies of U.S. airlines, the airlines have one by one started to ban face masks with valves on them. I had no idea that face masks with valves don’t effectively protect others, until Delta last week announced it was prohibiting them. On its dedicated page, Delta writes that “any mask with an exhaust valve is not approved as an acceptable face mask for customers traveling on any Delta operated flight.”
As of yesterday, face masks with valves are no longer allowed on Spirit Airlines flights. Per TPG, “the following coverings will no longer be accepted as masks on Spirit:
- Open-chin triangle bandanas
- Face coverings containing valves or mesh material
- Face shields (note that face shields may be worn in addition to an acceptable face covering)”
Both United and JetBlue will soon be banning them, as well. United’s new policy will go into effect tomorrow (August 7). On JetBlue flights, meanwhile, the airline will no longer allow the use of “face masks with vents or exhalation valves” starting Monday (August 10).
What’s wrong with face masks with valves?
In a story called “Face masks with valves don’t stop COVID-19 from spreading,” PopSci writes that “when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID, wearing a valved mask is just about as bad as not wearing one at all: they allow your exhalations (and respiratory droplets, which can carry the virus that causes COVID-19) to vent out into the air.” The Mayo Clinic, in its own write-up on face mask safety, says that “some N95 masks have valves that make them easier to breathe through. With this type of mask, unfiltered air is released when the wearer exhales.” Both stories are worth reading if you want to know more.
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