To prevent the spread of the corona virus, Dutch government wants to make it mandatory to wear a face mask in shops, museums and theaters from 1 December. Also in education (with the exception of primary school) people will then have to wear a face mask. For contact professions, the rule applies to both the customer and the professional, such as the hairdresser or the driving instructor. A face mask was already mandatory in public transport, but from now on this is also the case at stations and at bus and tram stops. It applies to everyone aged 13 and older. Anyone who does not comply with the rule risks a fine of 95 euros.
Masks or face shields?
A face mask must completely cover the nose and mouth and it must be designed to prevent the spread of viruses. Medical face masks are intended for healthcare; face masks are suitable for use in shops, at school, on public transport and at the hairdresser. Therefore, it is preferable to use masks that can be bought at the drugstore or supermarket. A splash shield (face shield) does not completely cover the nose and mouth and should therefore not be used as an alternative to a face mask. The same goes for a scarf or bandana, for example.
Public interior spaces, station buildings and airports
The obligation applies in all public interior spaces, station buildings and airports. Examples of public indoor spaces are shops, museums, petrol stations, theaters and concert halls. A face mask is not mandatory if people have a fixed seat. In concrete terms, this means that in theaters, for example, the face mask may be removed when people are seated at the table or in the auditorium. This does not apply to public transport where you must always wear a mask on the train, bus, tram or metro. When subsequently getting up to go to the toilet or outside, the face mask should be worn again. In buildings intended for the practice of religion, such as churches, mosques, temples and synagogues, a face mask is not mandatory.
In secondary education, secondary special education, secondary vocational education and higher education, pupils, students, teachers and other staff must wear a mask when moving through the school building. The face mask can be removed during class, when everyone has a fixed sitting place or standing place. A teacher does not need to wear a face mask in the classroom, as long as a distance of 1.5 meters can be kept. Gym, singing, theater, dance and certain forms of practical education are excluded from the face mask obligation.
Contact professions and healthcare providers
In contact professions, the 1.5 meter measure is often not realistic. That is why wearing a face mask is also mandatory at the hairdresser, during driving lessons and at the nail stylist. This applies to both the customer and the practitioner of the contact profession. Care providers such as general practitioners and physiotherapists are exempt from the obligation. On the basis of the Care Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act (Wkkgz), hospitals and healthcare institutions apply their own rules with regard to face masks or other personal protective equipment. Patients, visitors and caregivers should follow these.
The obligation to wear a face mask does not apply to people who cannot wear or put on a face mask due to a disability or illness. The police or street wardens can ask people to demonstrate that this exception applies to them. Face masks are also not required during sports, acting, musical rehearsals or performances and giving interviews on radio and TV.
The regulations and therefore also the face mask obligation, initially apply for three months. After that period extension is possible. As soon as there is no longer a medical necessity, the regulations will be withdrawn.