Facemasks on public transport should stay, says health minister

Caretaker health minister Hugo de Jonge has said facemasks on public transport should not be scrapped because the danger to vulnerable people would be too great.

The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has been briefed to look into the advisability of doing away with facemasks on public transport but has not yet reported its findings to the government, broadcaster NOS reported.

But De Jonge said on Friday that many people will feel vulnerable on trains, trams and buses without the masks.

‘Dutch rail is one of the parties which would have to take this into account’, the broadcaster quoted the minister as saying.

Last week, Dutch rail director Marjan Rintel said obligatory mask wearing on public transport is becoming ‘difficult to explain’ when people are told to wear masks on the train but not at a shopping centre.

If people start going to work again on public transport they will be ‘packed like herrings in a barrel’, De Jonge said. People with a compromised immune system will not be happy stuck next to someone ‘breathing aerosols down their neck’, he added.

De Jonge said the solution is not just for vulnerable people to wear a facemask themselves. ‘It’s better that others who can infect you wear one as well.’

The health minister and caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte will be announcing whether or not corona measures, including mask wearing, will be relaxed at a press conference next Tuesday.

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