8. Hygiene rules and masks

Behaviour rules to adopt to avoid contamination and another infection peak
  • Observe the rules of hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • Maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.
  • Wear a mask if the 1.5 meter distance rule cannot be respected and in areas where it is now compulsory to wear a mask (e.g. public transport in Switzerland, shops and shopping malls in Geneva).
  • Stay at home if you have symptoms.
  • Always call before going to the doctor or an emergency service. 
  • Since 22 June, teleworking is no longer recommended by the FOPH.


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

In Geneva, since 28 July 2020, the provision and use of hydroalcoholic gel is compulsory in shops and establishments open to the public.

  • 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.

FOPH recommendations


Safety masks

The coronavirus is transmitted mainly through droplets released by coughing or sneezing. To protect your health and the health of others, it is therefore essential to respect inter-personal distances, to wash your hands regularly, and to sneeze and cough in the crook of your elbow.
Although masks provide a physical barrier, this barrier is not complet. Hence, the inter-personal 1.5 meter distance rule must be applied at all times.

Inter-personal distancing protects more efficiently than a mask. If associated with handwashing, it remains the best form of protection.

When should one wear a mask?

Masks are compulsory since 6 July 2020 in all public transport facilities in Switzerland.

Masks are compulsory since 28 July 2020 in shops in the canton of Geneva and in restaurants since 31 July 2020 (apart from when one is seated).


When it is not compulsory, wearing a surgical mask is only recommended in the following cases :

  • For people with acute respiratory symptoms who need to leave their home (e.g. for a medical consultation).
  • For COVID+ persons in home isolation, when they must go outside their home for the shortest time possible.
  • For contacts in home quarantine when they must leave their home for as short a time as possible.
  • For healthcare professionals who examine or look after care for patients, residents or clients without being able to keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres.
  • For healthcare workers who provide services that involve close contact (less than 1.5 metres) with patients, residents or vulnerable persons.
  • For prolonged contact of less than 1.5 metres in the absence of other means of protection (e.g. Plexiglas screens).


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 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.

Be sure to follow the new rules


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