Visors are no match for masks

While face masks remain the primary recommendation for protecting yourself and others against Covid-19, in Ireland, many people are using visors – especially in shop and café/restaurant settings where they’d rather not be masked all day. 

Government guidance recommends face visors to a small cohort of people where a face covering is not suitable. This group includes people who have trouble breathing, have special needs, or has been advised by a healthcare professional not to wear a face covering. 

However, according to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visors do not provide adequate protection from Covid-19 when used by themselves as an alternative to cloth masks. Wearing them with a mask is considered the best protection. 

“While visors offer a number of advantages, I don’t rate them as much protection,” Maura Screene, a nurse in Cappagh Hospital, Dublin, says. “They protect your eyes and with a face covering give you added protection, but they are certainly not effective when you are in close contact with someone.” 

Speaking to RTE news, Dublin GP Matt O’Toole said: “They [visors] don’t protect the user and more importantly they do not protect those around them, so they’re next to useless. If a member of hospitality staff has Covid-19 and is wearing a visor, that provides no protection to the people around them at all.” 

Dr O’Toole has called for them to be banned. 

The Health Service Executive outlines in its public health advice that visors “are not as good as wearing a face covering, but you’ll still get some level of protection”. 

Even when wearing a face covering, people are urged to social distance, use good cough/sneeze etiquette, wash hands, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands. 

Bernie Ryan, a nurse in the Mater Hospital in the north inner city, says that “there is no point wearing a visor without a mask. In work we wear both visors and face masks if we have a covid patient but for non-covid patients we just wear an FFP2 mask.  

With Covid-19 case numbers increasing throughout the inner city, adherence to public health restrictions and the correct use of face coverings in situations where they are required will, when combined with social distancing and good hygiene, help fight the virus.

“If I was out shopping, I would personally only wear a disposable face mask and would never recommend a visor on its own.”