The CDC’s new guidelines urge all people to wear face coverings in public to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Some advised precautions are simple, like wearing a face covering to go to the grocery store. Other public spaces make mask wearing more challenging, such as while dining. As states beginning re-opening, many people are wondering how they can both enjoy a favorite meal, and also stay safe while doing so.
Guidance for foodservice employees is straight forward. In summary: wear masks when at all feasible (via Nation’s Restaurant News). But really, how on earth can a restaurant patron wear a mask while eating, without removing it for every single bite of food? One Israeli inventor thinks he has the answer to this quandary. Meir Gitelis demonstrated his new remote control mask with a mechanical mouth from his Or Yehuda, Israel lab (via Instagram).
Confused? Think of it as a marriage between the simple blue surgical mask, a blood pressure cuff, and Pac-Man.
Meet the face mask designed for eating
Asaf Gitelis, Vice President of the Avtipus Patents and Inventions, explains further, “The mask will be opened mechanically by hand remote or automatically when the fork is coming to the mask” (via Reuters). While some viewers who saw a video of how the device works considered this moving mask a must-have, others pointed out some practical drawbacks. Ron Silberstein, a 29-year-old musician who happened to be eating an ice cream cone said, “I don’t think this mask could hold this kind of ice cream – it’s dripping all over. I wouldn’t want to wear it afterward.”
More importantly, however, is whether this mask is effective. The respiratory droplets that transmit COVID-19 are far smaller than the opening in the face mask, so transmission is still entirely possible when it’s open. It should also be noted that cloth masks are not foolproof, instead offering an additional barrier against transmission from coughing, speaking, or sneezing compared to no mask at all.
Perhaps Dr. Sally Alrabaa, an associate professor of medicine in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of South Florida said it best to the Tampa Bay Times on the topic of deciding to dine out: “Safety is a relative term. Any activity that involves close contact with people outside the home bring(s) some risk.”
When it comes to the mechanical face mask, at this time, it’s just a concept, with manufacturing months away.
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