Government officials in the Netherlands will not ask citizens to wear masks, as they say there is no clear evidence that doing so would slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Reuters reported the decision was made Wednesday and announced by Dutch Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark.
The policy was also reviewed by the country’s National Institute for Health, which said it could not support advising residents to wear masks whenever they are out in public, despite a surge of cases in the country.
Instead of mandating facial coverings, the country will seek a solution that includes more physical distancing.
“Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks,” van Ark said at a news conference.
Jaap van Dissel, chief of the Dutch National Institute for Health, also spoke about the country’s view of the efficacy of facial coverings, which are only required on public transportation and at airports in the Netherlands.
The health official said studies which show masks can slow the spread of the coronavirus have not convinced Dutch health experts.
“He argued wearing masks incorrectly, together with worse adherence to social distancing rules, could increase the risk of transmitting the disease,” Reuters reported.
“So we think that if you’re going to use masks [in a public setting] … then you must give good training for it,” van Dissel said.
The Netherlands announced July 1 it would be lifting lockdown restrictions, and has seen an increase in cases since then, according to Reuters.
Dutch officials are not alone in their skepticism of facial coverings.
Swedish officials, who did not shut down the country amid the coronavirus pandemic and chose to instead seek an approach that relies on citizens gaining herd immunity, have been critical of masks.
The country has seen its number of coronavirus cases and deaths plummet.
Measures such as social distancing and the wearing of masks in the Scandinavian nation are voluntary.
Dr. Anders Tegnell, the man behind the country’s controversial response to the pandemic, has pointed out Sweden’s success in dealing with the virus. The epidemiologist told reporters this week he did not see a reason for his country’s citizens to wear masks.
“The curves go down, and the curves over the seriously ill begin to be very close to zero. As a whole, it is very positive,” he said, Financial Review reported. “With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.