Jamus Lim Hopes Outdoors Mask Rules Can Be Relaxed, Says Public Health Policy Should Be Sustainable

Over a year and a half into the pandemic, masks have become a mainstay in Singaporeans’ lives.

While masks continue to be essential in our fight against Covid-19, Sengkang MP Jamus Lim is now hoping the rules can be relaxed.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (21 Sep), he said there is a case for relaxing outdoor masking rules while insisting on strict adherence indoors.

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He stresses that masks are important but believes that relaxing mask-wearing outdoors is a more sustainable health policy.

Far lower transmission rate outdoors

In his post, Dr Lim shared that what he misses most from his recent travels to the United States (US) with his family is walking at a park with the freedom to keep their masks off.

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Dr Lim said that we now understand far more about Covid-19.

One development, he says, is the far lower transmission rate of the virus outdoors compared to indoors.

Dr Lim acknowledges that there is emerging evidence that the Delta variant can be transmitted even outdoors.

However, he points out, that masks alone are also not sufficient to stop the variant’s spread, referencing the market vegetable study.

Singaporeans experiencing mask fatigue

Continuing, Dr Lim says that in his view, this makes a “strong behavioural case” for relaxing the mask mandate outdoors.

He points out that, in an ideal world, everyone will keep their masks on all the time.

However, in reality, constantly wearing a mask is stifling, and all the more so in Singapore’s hot and humid climate.

Dr Lim then brings attention to people who work outdoors such as cleaners and gardeners.

Jamus Lim mask outdoors

He explained that this group of people cannot use the excuse of exercising to unmask.

Furthermore, wearing a mask outdoors often leads to people ripping their masks off when indoors to get some relief, he said.

All these, Dr Lim said, point to clear signs of mask fatigue.

Jamus Lim hopes outdoors mask rules relax for more sustainability

Dr Lim says this is not the way we want to go as a country.

And if we had to choose between indoor and outdoor masking, the former is clearly preferred as the risk of transmission indoors is much higher.

After all, he said,

We aren’t machines, and public health policy should ultimately be sustainable.

Emphasising that masks are still an important tool in our fight against Covid-19, Dr Lim said he believes we should relax outdoor masking rules but insist on strict adherence indoors.

Jamus Lim mask outdoorsSource

There are of course exceptions to this. Dr Lim says that masking should still be mandatory outdoors when there’s close interpersonal contact such as markets and other crowded places.

In general, he says Singapore could evolve our Covid-19 policy to pay greater attention to indoor air quality, especially as we move to treat the virus as endemic.

Concluding his post, Dr Lim said he posed a Parliamentary Question about this issue but the response maintained that masking at all times remains necessary.

It was also said that it will be one of the last stipulations to go.

He hopes that authorities will revisit this issue.

Netizens have mixed reactions

In response to Dr Lim’s post, netizens had mixed reactions, some supporting his view while others opined that masks are still needed outdoors.

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Others weren’t as sure as to whether people would follow a mandate if it was only applied selectively.

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One argument was that it might make enforcement difficult.

Revisiting the mask issue to combat fatigue

According to the World Health Organisation, masks should be worn whenever a physical distance cannot be maintained, be it indoors or outdoors.

However, in some countries such as Germany, the US and UK, masks can be taken off outdoors.

Do you think Singapore should relax our outdoor masking rules? Let us know in the comments.

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Featured images adapted from Jamus Lim on Facebook and Facebook.