Face Covering Distinctions Are Blurry as Pandemic Marches On

A maskless woman wears a small, weird plastic shield. (Source photo)

Personnel at a local store this week did not object when a man and woman wore what appeared to be upside-down plastic face shields without a mask covering their nose and mouth because months-old directives from the Department of Health only say “face coverings” must be worn without specifying what that means.

Though the images on the poster show cloth masks and no plastic shields, violence has often accompanied people being asked to wear masks.

“It’s easier to just wait for them to leave,” one store owner said.

Though DOH public information officer Jahnesta Ritter said in an email response to a Source inquiry about the weird shield, “Face masks are required in all establishments. Using a shield without a mask/facial covering over your mouth and nose is not sufficient and is not permitted,” the store manager pointed out that that’s not what the DOH-issued poster says.

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“While we appreciate the speed with which the government distributed the signs, they don’t say that shields only are not allowed,” said the manager, who the Source has decided not to identify. Nor is the Source naming the establishment where the incident occurred, as similar confusion and apparent infractions are widespread.

“A press release that we highlight and hang in the door isn’t going to do it,” she said.

Health Department poster distributed in the spring to places open to the public.

After the Source notified Health about the confusion created by the lack of clarity, Ritter quickly responded saying, “We will work on revising this poster and ensure that businesses have access to the new version.”

Meanwhile, plastic shields, whether worn upside down or right side up are not sufficient by themselves. A mask covering the nose and mouth must also be worn.