News

Mask mandatory inside vehicle when not alone

  • If alone inside vehicle, no need of facemask: Police

By Hiranyada Dewasiri

 

The Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) stated that in order to reduce the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it is essential that facemasks are worn when travelling in compact vehicles at all times, even when travelling with members of the same household.

HPB Director of Health Education and Promotion Dr. P.D. Koggalage said so to The Morning yesterday (11) when inquired about the matter, after the Police commenced the inspection of vehicles, specifically their passengers and drivers, for the violation of Covid-19-related safety protocols.

“The health advisory is that only two persons can travel in a vehicle at the same time. Even if these two persons are from the same household, it is essential that they wear masks. An air-conditioned vehicle is a compact space and there is a high possibility of the virus transmitting inside such a space.”

It is also recommended that the second person travelling in the vehicle sit in the backseat so that the necessary distance is maintained between the two persons, Dr. Koggalage elaborated.

Under the new health guidelines issued in the last week of April, only two people are allowed to leave one house or lodge unless they are engaged in essential services or permitted activities.

When queried as to whether a solitary driver inside a vehicle should also wear the facemask while driving, Dr. Koggalage said that scientifically, this is not essential, provided that they wear the mask before they speak to someone outside the vehicle.

“Scientifically, it is not essential that one wears a mask when inside a vehicle alone. But if you stop, for instance, to speak to the Police, one should wear the mask before such contact is made.”

However, when questioned as to whether the Police could take action against those who do not wear facemasks while travelling alone in their vehicle, Dr. Koggalage said that it could be that the Police is taking action against violators of the official Covid-19 safety regulations that categorically state that facemasks should be worn at all times once people have left their homes.

When contacted on the matter, Senior Deputy Inspector General (SDIG) of Police (SDIG) – Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon told The Morning yesterday that it is not necessary for an individual travelling alone in a vehicle to wear a facemask while inside the vehicle.

“We will not be taking action against individuals who are not wearing a mask inside a closed vehicle if they are alone in that vehicle.”

However, SDIG Tennakoon said that they must wear a facemask when getting out of the vehicle.