Double masking celebrities and politicians made headlines at the tail end of 2020 and the practice is now a common sight around the UK, unsurprising given how dangerous the new Covid variants are. While doubling up can offer increased protection, there are some situations where it’s either not enough or not necessary, let us talk you through it.
If you read our article on picking the right mask for work, you know that filtration and sealing are the key requirements for maximum protection. Homemade cloth masks do not effectively filter droplets and are very unlikely to seal well around the mouth and nose. Wearing two of them will increase their effectiveness slightly but this is still a last resort level of protection.
Surgical Masks (Type I & Type II)
These are the medical-looking masks we typically associate with doctors and nurses. More effective than a homemade mask, it can stop you spreading the disease to others and will hopefully seal better around the edges too as there should be a nose clip.
Surgical masks are usually 3 ply so some filtration will take place and wearing a cloth mask over the top essentially means you’re cobbling together a 4-layer mask for increased protection. Just make sure you change them both regularly and bear in mind that once your breath has made the mask damp its efficacy will drop like a stone.
FFP2 Masks (or N95 as they’re labelled in China) are made of four layers and already filter at least 94% of particles. These masks are tested before certification and the seal on them means any leakage is kept under 8%. At this point your mask is offering about as much protection as you can get without being fit-tested by a legally competent person. Basically, if you’re wearing a mask like this you’re not going to much improvement by adding a second layer!
Are masks enough?
No! Even if you have a perfectly fitting mask there is still a chance you could contract the virus via your eyes, contaminated surfaces, etc… Make sure you continue to socially distance, wear a wraparound face shield or visor if possible, regularly wash your hands and don’t be one of those muppets who leaves their nose poking out the top of their mask.
- If you have an FFP2 or N95 mask, you only really need to wear one.
- If you have a surgical mask, you’d probably benefit from a cloth mask over the top.
- If you’re wearing a homemade mask, you’re not very well protected.