When it comes to mask-wearing, sometimes it feels like you’re operating in a minefield of weird new social expectations (yes, even almost a year into the pandemic). You know masks are a necessity when you’re indoors with people outside your bubble, but should you sneeze into your mask or into a tissue? Do you always wear a mask outside? Is it rude to stay masked at an outdoor gathering, when you’re staying six feet apart from others? But doctors tell Bustle that getting mask mistakes right isn’t just about social graces.
“While etiquette may drive which fork to use first, nobody dies from using a dinner fork to eat their salad, while improper mask wearing by an asymptomatic COVID-infected person could kill you,” Dr. David Cutler M.D., a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, tells Bustle. He also says that laws will often determine peoples’ mask wearing behavior, but that can be confusing since masking laws differ a lot from place to place. “When people from different localities get together, they may have very different understandings of the law,” he says. (Also, these kinds of inter-city gatherings can spread the virus from one community to another, so consider... not doing that.)
Face masks basics are pretty easy: wear one over your nose and mouth any time you're in close contact with people you don't live with. But there are a lot of subtleties beyond that. Still confused? Here are five common masking mistakes and how to fix them.