Face masks are the new travel necaccessory (geddit?!)
It might be a while before most of us fly again, but airlines are starting to think about how they can get us back in the air while there is still the threat of infection from Covid-19.
They’re looking at social distancing measures to reduce the risk of cross-infection, but they know that really this is going to be all but almost impossible, not just on flights but in airports as well.
While some airlines are thinking of leaving middle seats empty or selling only alternate seats to keep passengers the recommended two meters apart, this has already been dismissed as nonsense by Ryanair, which says it would rather leave its planes on the ground than fly with so few passengers.
And this week the boss of Heathrow Airport admitted it would be impossible to maintain social distancing at airports.
And then, of course, there’s the question of how passengers will reach airports on public transport without coming into contact with the virus on the train, bus or tube. As Ryanair’s (always outspoken) chief executive Michael O’Leary said this week: “There is no way you can have social distancing in an aluminium tube, whether it’s an airline or it’s the London Underground or it’s a train.”
Instead, an increasing number of airlines intend to insist on both passengers and crew wearing face masks – or at least face coverings – to prevent the spread of germs. Wizz Air, which has already re-launched flights from Luton to 15 destinations in Europe, is among them.
While some airlines, like United in the US, will issue passengers with face masks, others, like Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines, have already told passengers they will have to provide their own.
Manchester Airport and cross-Channel rail operator Eurostar also said this week that passengers will have to wear face masks or face coverings, which they must provide themselves. Manchester Airport said passengers will also have to wear gloves, as will all staff.
The UK Government hasn’t yet said decided whether there’s actually any medical benefit to wearing non-surgical face masks – there certainly doesn’t seem any evidence that non-surgical masks can prevent you contracting Covid-19, but some scientists have suggested that wearing a face mask might stop you spreading it to someone else.
No matter, if airlines insist we wear face masks then we must, but the good news is that, due to Covid-19, they are actually becoming almost fashionable. In fact, since the photo of teen singing sensation Billie Eilish wearing a rather gorgeous Gucci face mask at the Grammy Awards went – ahem – viral, they’ve become the next must-have accessory.
Whilst Eilish’s face mask was probably a bit too flimsy to be of any use at all, she’s since teemed up with other musicians, including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, and a music merch company to make a range of branded face masks, such as the Rolling Stones’ mask above, that at least appear to be more substantial. You can order yours here.
Put a sock on it
You can make your own face mask from an old sock (no stitching required, just pop in a coffee filter when you’re done) but honestly, you don’t want to be jetting off to Ibiza or Florida or anywhere for that matter wrapped in old footwear do you?
Thankfully lots designers have also been madly stitching away like little Christmas elves to produce cool face masks so you don’t have to wear a sock or one of those green or blue masks from the chemists, which, quite frankly, will make you look like you’ve just escaped from hospital.
How about one of these face masks?
Etsy has lots of face masks on sale, like the ones above, you just need to decide if you want to go the whole hog and buy one with a filter, or one with a pocket to insert your own filter (which you can buy separately from stores like Amazon), or one that’s only cloth, in which case you need to make sure that the cloth is so thick that you can’t see through it, otherwise it will probably be as much use as a chocolate tea cosy.
Personally I’m lusting after this face mask by Collina Strada, but it’s US$100, which is a way out of my budget, I’d want an entire dress for that. However, the designer does give instructions on its website to make your own fabric mask, which has got to be better than covering your face with a sock.
How cool are these masks above? They’re from Lyst, but the cheapest is £119 and the most expensive £321, but still, they’d definitely pep up your holiday wardrobe.
Cheaper and yet still stylish are these above, from a range to pre-order from American clothing brand Rag & Bone, which cost a more affordable $30.
Or you can get these three below from J Crew for £20.
All masks were still on sale when this piece was published, but, I imagine, selling like hot cakes. Banana Republic said it expects to have some in stock soon.
What will you be wearing on your next flight? I’d love to see some photos!