Urgent advice to wear face masks

The parliamentary debate on Wednesday 30 September revealed broad support for issuing a clear-cut national advice concerning the wearing of face masks in public indoor spaces. As of that date, all persons aged 13 and over are therefore urgently advised to wear (non-surgical) face masks in publicly accessible indoor spaces, including:

  • shops, museums, town halls, stations, airports, covered car parks and petrol stations;
  • restaurants, cafés, theatres and concert halls.
  • For contact professions, the face mask advice applies to both the service provider as well as the customer.

This is not a mandatory obligation, but an urgent advice. In a number of cases, wearing a face mask may prove impracticable. This applies, for instance, to people who are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons or due to a disability. In addition, it is usually not possible to wear a face mask while playing sports.

Face masks

The advice refers to non-surgical face masks. Surgical face masks are intended for use only in health care settings. Visitors to a publicly accessible indoor space must bring their own masks. Managers of publicly accessible indoor spaces are not expected to provide masks for visitors. The government is consulting with local authorities to investigate how people on low incomes can be provided with masks. Local authorities and associated partners are responsible for working out the details. As an example, face masks could be distributed via food banks.

Places where people do and do not need to wear masks

In public indoor spaces where people remain standing (in an undesignated spot) or move around, it is recommended to wear the face mask continuously. At locations where people are assigned a designated place, such as in restaurants or theatres, the face mask may be removed when the person is seated, provided that a social distance of 1.5 metres is kept at all times. Whenever the person leaves the designated place, for example to visit the toilet, it is recommended to put the face mask back on.

At locations that are partly covered and partly in the open air, it is recommended to wear face masks in the covered areas. In the case of locations with both indoor and outdoor areas (such as stations, zoos and amusement parks), it is recommended that repeatedly putting on and taking off the face mask should be avoided as much as possible, even if the visitors are out in the open air. The same applies to shoppers moving from one shop to another. This is because frequently putting on and taking off a face mask increases the risk of infection.


It is up to the manager of the publicly accessible indoor space to determine whether to adopt this advice and make it part of their own house rules. It follows that it is also up to the manager to determine whether to remind visitors to the indoor space of this advice. If the manager decides to issue an instruction for visitors to wear a face mask when entering the space based on this advice, it is also the manager’s responsibility to ensure compliance with this instruction.


An obligation to wear a face mask is already in effect at some locations. At Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the use of face masks is mandatory in a number of designated areas. This obligation will remain in place and will not be changed into an urgent advice. Similarly, the existing obligation to wear a face mask continues to apply with respect to public transport and other modes of transport (taxis, buses, etc.). For the sake of completeness, the following advice applies to car travel (and other private transport): a face mask is recommended when several people who do not belong to the same household are travelling together in a car, unless this involves a regular driver.