Covid 19 coronavirus: Top epidemiologist says mandatory mask rules has ‘gaps’

Top epidemiologist Michael Baker believes there are “gaps” in the new mandatory mask rules for Aucklanders.

To achieve limited spread of the coronavirus Baker says mask wearing should be compulsory for Aucklanders in waiting areas before boarding public transport.

As transport hubs where passengers wait are often dense with more face to face contact Baker says masks should be worn.

Baker says this is a gap that “should be looked at seriously”.

Speaking with Air New Zealand staff while boarding a flight yesterday, Baker asked staff when they expect passengers to put on their masks.

He says staff told him they expect masks to be worn once passengers board the plane.

Baker disagrees with this, telling the Herald masks are worn to “limit the spread”.

Baker travelled to Auckland yesterday and noticed their was little to no mask wearing or social distancing while waiting to board the flight.

However, said while on a flight back to Wellington that night, he noticed a few more passengers were wearing masks, but says it was still a small minority.

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a mandatory order for all commuters using Auckland public transport to cover up from 11.59pm on Wednesday as the region faces a second outbreak in recent months.

Passengers flying on private planes will also be exempt.

Personally Baker has noticed the “density” of airports and says passengers should be expected to wear masks while waiting to board flights.

A photo posted to Twitter today showed huge lines of passengers at an Auckland terminal with little mask wearing and no social distancing between passengers.

“Social distancing working well Auckland Airport”, the tweet read accompanied with a photo taken at Auckland Airport.

Although he acknowledges the country is “fine turning it’s mask wearing”.

“We are at the early stages of mask wearing,” Baker said.

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