Wearing of face masks strongly advised

Following a parliamentary debate on Wednesday 30 September, there is broad support for issuing clear national advice on the wearing of face masks in indoor public spaces.

From now, everyone aged 13 or over is advised to wear a non-medical face mask in indoor public spaces such as:

  • shops, museums, town halls, stations, airports, covered car parks and petrol stations
  • restaurants, bars, cafés, theatres and concert halls
  • locations where contact-based professions are carried out (both customers and staff should wear a mask).

Wearing a mask is not mandatory, but it is strongly advised. In some cases wearing a mask is not possible. Some people cannot wear a mask for a medical reason or due to a disability. And it is also not usually possible to wear a mask while doing sport.

Face masks
The type of face masks that should be worn are non-medical face masks. Medical face masks are reserved for use in the healthcare sector. People entering an indoor public space are responsible for ensuring they have a face mask to wear. Building managers are not expected to provide face masks for members of the public. The government will consult with municipalities to explore how people on low incomes can be provided with face masks. Municipalities will then need to work with relevant partners – such as food banks – to implement such plans.

On or off?
In all indoor public spaces where members of the public stand in an unallocated spot or walk around, people are advised to wear a face mask at all times. In locations where everyone has an allocated seat, such as restaurants or theatres, people can remove their face masks while seated. This only applies if the 1.5 metre rule can be complied with while seated. As soon as a person leaves their allocated seat, for example to go to the toilet, they should put their face mask back on.

In locations that are partly covered and partly outdoors, the advice is to wear a face mask in the covered areas. At locations that have both indoor and outdoor areas, such as stations, zoos and amusement parks, the advice is to avoid taking the mask off as much as possible, even if this means wearing a mask outside. The same applies to shoppers going from one shop to another. Repeatedly touching the face mask to put it on and take it off increases the risk of infection.

The manager of an indoor public space is responsible for deciding whether to act on the national advice and/or incorporate it into their organisation’s own policy. Building managers may also decide to refuse entry to members of the public not wearing a mask. If a building manager decides, on the basis of the national advice, to require members of the public to wear a face mask, it is their responsibility to ensure this requirement is complied with. However, if an excessive number of people refuse to comply with the policy in place, enforcement officers can be called on to intervene.

Mandatory face masks
In some situations, face masks are mandatory. They must be worn in some designated areas at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. This will not change. Face masks are also mandatory on public transport and private commercial transport, such as taxis or passenger vans. This will not change either. People travelling in a car or other private vehicle are advised to wear a non-medical face mask if there are 2 or more people in the vehicle who belong to different households. This does not apply to personal drivers.