COVID-19 - How to protect yourself and others

2. Behaviour and hygiene rules and masks

What must one do to limit the circulation of the virus?

  • Wear a mask in crowded areas of urban centres or villages with heavy pedestrian traffic and other public areas, whenever the concentration of people present does not allow the prescribed security distances to be observed.
  • Masks must be worn in enclosed spaces, including vehicles where more than one person is present.
  •  Fully vaccinated persons may dispense with the personal distance requirement and with the obligation to wear a mask in private meetings with other fully vaccinated persons. 
  • Ventilate closed areas several times a day, especially in rooms where there are people from different households (at least once an hour for 5-10 minutes). When temperatures are warmer, it is a good idea to leave the windows open longer. Always open the windows wide to create a draught.

General rules of hygiene

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based solution.

A hydro-alcoholic solution must be available at the entrance to shops and establishments open to the public. Customers must use it before entering.

  • No handshakes and hugging and keep at a sufficient distance (1.5 metres) from your interlocutors.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into a paper tissue.
  • After use, throw the paper tissue in a trashcan and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or an alcohol-based solution.
  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow if you don't have a paper tissue.
  • Air your rooms several times a day. Regular ventilation reduces the risk of virus transmission indoors. Distance, wearing a mask and hygiene rules remain the most effective measures.


Safety masks

The mask provides a physical barrier. The interpersonal distance of 1.5 metres combined with regular hand washing increases the effectiveness of the mask.

When to use a mask

More information : Types of masks (FOPH)


Masks FAQ

Should children wear masks?

 Wearing a mask is required for children aged over 12 years in all places where it is compulsory (public transport, shops, etc.).


Can we use a mask more than once or should we throw it away?

A hygiene mask can be reused. In routine activities (public transport, shops), once removed, the mask can be held in your hand or worn on the forearm (with the outside face out). It can then be put on again, always applying the precautionary measures.

If you do not plan to reuse your mask quickly, it can be folded on the outside surface and then put aside in a pocket or bag, a clean envelope or paper bag. Plastic bags are not suitable for storing a mask because they do not allow air to pass through, so masks cannot dry out. Also, viruses survive longer on plastic than on paper. The important thing is to always handle it after having disinfected your hands well and not touching the outside surface at any time.

If it is to be used later, it is best to hang your mask on a hook after use so that it does not touch any other objects.


When must we imperatively change a mask?

A throwable mask can be thrown away after a day's use.


Are masks washable?

Hygiene masks cannot be washed. Fabric masks must be washed according to the manufacturer's instructions.


What frequency must a fabric mask be washed?

It is necessary to refer to the manufacturer's instructions. The mask should be washed at least after one day of use, at more than 60 degrees. Depending on the model, it is estimated that the mask can be washed between 5 and 20 times without losing any of its qualities.


Can we throw out used masks anywhere?

Used masks must be thrown in a dustbin, if possible closed.


Can we wear reusable fabric masks?

Yes, it is recommended that you purchase a Swiss TESTEX standard mask. The mask must bear the TESTEX Community Mask label.


Can we use plexiglass visors?

Visors cannot replace a mask. They protect the eyes from droplet contamination, but do not guarantee protection from infection through the mouth or nose. They can therefore only be used as a supplement to a mask.


Are certain people exempt from wearing a mask?

Certain persons may be exempted for medical reasons (certificate required). They must behave in an exemplary manner and be able to present their medical certificate in the event of an inspection. In such situations, masks may be replaced by a face shield.



Cleaning products and disinfectants

Commonly used cleaning products and disinfectants are effective against the COVID-19 virus.

Frequently touched surfaces are most likely to be contaminated.

It is therefore important to regularly clean surfaces and handled objects  with a common household cleaning product. It is also important to regularly wash your hands with soap and water or a hydroalcoholic solution after touching potentially contaminated surfaces and to avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.


Further information

FOPH website New coronavirus: Protect yourself and others

Dernière modification
28 May 2021
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