Israelis Must Now Wear Face Masks in Public. Here's What You Need to Know

The new regulation goes into effect on Sunday morning, but will not be enforced by police initially

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A man wears a face mask in the locked-down city of Bnei Brak, April 10, 2020.
A man wears a face mask in the locked-down city of Bnei Brak, April 10, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Anyone leaving their home will need to wear a face mask starting Sunday in order to hinder the spread of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry announced Saturday night.

The new regulations, which police will not initially enforce, do not apply to children under the age of 6, people with disabilities that make wearing masks significantly difficult, those driving alone or with another member of their household, anyone participating in a media broadcast and workers keeping a consistent two-meter distance between one another.

>> Here’s how to properly wear a face mask, and make your own at home

Official guidelines on how and when to wear protective masks to guard against the spread of coronavirus in IsraelCredit: Health Ministry

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Ministry officials had called on Israelis to don masks when out in public earlier this month, but had not made it an official policy. The new regulation will go into effect on Sunday morning.

Face masks work primarily by stopping viral particles in the sputum of the sick from escaping into the air, potentially infecting people in a roughly two-meter radius. The mask should catch respiratory droplets emitted by coughing or sneezing. For those who do not have ready access to face masks, the Health Ministry released a video on how to make simple ones at home using nothing but a sheet and hair ties.

(Hebrew) Official Health Ministry video on how to easily make your own masks at home Credit: Health Ministry

Face masks cannot categorically prevent a healthy person from catching COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. But they can help prevent those infected from giving it to somebody else in the public domain. The evidence from countries where the general public did wear masks, such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, strongly indicates that they significantly slow the spread.