The “two out of three” rule for when to wear a mask outdoors

To avoid contagion, two of these three conditions must always be met: be outdoors, wear a mask, keep your distance

In the open air, therefore, it will be enough to add one of the other two: either a mask or distance between people

When leaving home, memorize this rule and always keep the mask in your purse or pocket

The day is coming. Since This Saturday, the mask will no longer be mandatory outdoors. We will appreciate it, because temperatures rise again and heat is not a good ally of this protector against viruses and bacteria that has been accompanying us for more than a year. But beware, that its use is no longer mandatory when we are outdoors does not mean that we forget it when leaving home.

Because if we go into a store, for example, we will have to put it on. And because in certain circumstances, even being outdoors but without being able to maintain an interpersonal distance of one and a half meters with non-cohabitants, it will also be necessary to continue using it, as the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, informed this Wednesday to the advisers of the field . At NIUS we have already explained which are the guidelines that we must take into account for its use, as of June 26. And today we want to remind you, in addition, a basic rule to memorize from now on: the “two out of three” rule.

Its driver is Linsey Marr, an expert in airborne virus transmission and professor at Virginia Tech (USA), and the rule is very easy to understand and remember. It can be applied both indoors and outdoors. The objective is to avoid the contagion of covid. And for this, two of these three conditions must always be met:

Outdoor Distance Mask

If the third condition is not met (that is, we are in an interior), then it will be necessary to fulfill the other two: wear a mask and maintain social distance. But what interests us here is what happens when it does happen, when we are outdoors.

Open air, mask, distance: meet two out of three

And what we see, when applying this rule, is that We have already fulfilled one of the three conditions: we are abroad. So it is not necessary to fulfill the other two, but one or the other: Either maintain social distance (at least five feet) with the rest of the people or, if this is not possible, put on a mask. In summary:

Indoors: mask AND distance
Outdoors: mask OR distance

The need to use the mask, even outdoors, when it is not possible to maintain that minimum distance security among people, it was already clear when we carried out this contagion simulation on the terrace of a bar, a situation in which we will see each other frequently this summer. And it must be taken into account, in addition, that More and more people are vaccinated, but there is still a large population without immunization.

When carrying out these contagion simulations on a terrace, we verify that zero risk does not exist. If you do not use the mask and do not keep your distance when speaking, you can become infected, even when outdoors. Because you wouldn’t be complying with the “two out of three” rule.

Own Linsey Marr, who has been insisting on it for a long time, sums it up like this: “If you’re outdoors, you need distance OR wear a mask. If you’re not outdoors, you need distance AND a mask. This is how I have been living for the last year. It all comes down to my rule of two out of three. “

Is it the best time?

In addition to having all this very present, not everyone agrees that this is the best time to remove our mask, with the delta (india) variant in full expansion around the world. And taking into account that the contagion of covid occurs, basically, through aerosols, many are calling for this protection measure to continue to be used.

Asked by NIUS about it, epidemiologists like Daniel López Acuña are against the removal of the mask outdoors at this time. He believes that “the most prudent thing to do would have been to postpone it”, at least until the incidence does not drop below 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and 70% of the population is fully vaccinated.

TO Jose Jonay Ojeda, spokesperson for the Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration (SESPAS), the measure, on the other hand, It seems “reasonable” to him. This expert acknowledges that the Indian variant is already the dominant one in the United Kingdom, for example, and that “it is foreseeable that the same will happen in Spain sooner or later”, but argues that “As is the epidemiological situation, we must continue to advance in de-escalation measures “.

He believes that “making the use of masks more flexible outdoors should not pose a risk”, but at the same time he insists. One thing is to make its use more flexible and another to forget about it: “We will have to continue wearing a mask if the safety distance with non-cohabitants cannot be respected,” he assures. the “two out of three” rule. It is as essential to memorize it when leaving home as it is to continue carrying the mask in your pocket.

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