Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian leader, announced Monday that his government will make basic face masks mandatory for shoppers inside supermarkets in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Kurz announced the plans while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization continue to urge healthy individuals to leave the masks for the medical professionals.
Dr. Jerome M. Adams, the U.S. surgeon general, tweeted Monday that the WHO stood by its earlier recommendation to “not wear masks if you are not sick or not caring for someone who is sick.”
Austria had 10,180 confirmed cases and 128 deaths by early Wednesday. Kurz acknowledged that the masks may not protect the wearer, but believed it was a reasonable step to take to protect the larger population from the disease transmission.
“As of the moment, these masks are handed out in front of supermarkets it will be compulsory to wear them in supermarkets,” he said, according to Reuters.
Dr. Lydia Bourouriba, an MIT associate professor, told USA Today that the coronavirus could likely travel much farther than the established theory of six-feet social distancing.