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Collective enclosed spaces and Covid-19: mask wearing and possible adaptations at the workplace

Considering the resumption of professional activities from September 2020 leading to an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission within the population, the High Council of Public Health (HCSP) specifies specifies its doctrine and the barrier and organizational measures in the workplace, as well as the possible adaptations for wearing masks.

The HCSP recalls the best strategy to reduce the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus is to combine masks with physical distancing. Wearing a mask is the only effective measure when a physical distance of at least 1 meter is not guaranteed. Protective visor alone is not sufficient to control the risk.

The HCSP stresses that the distance between the workstations, their separation by screens as well as air renewal are essential elements to be taken into account for better risk control. It recommends employees to systematically wear a mask when moving across the company’s rooms and to wash their hands whenever they change work areas. It stresses that a symptomatic employee should not go to work. If employees become symptomatic at the workplace, they should self-isolate then undergo a diagnostic PCR test. Symptomatic employees’ contacts should be traced, isolated and tested.

The HCSP reports that minimising social interaction within the company lowers the risk of transmission.

Finaly, the HCSP mentions that specific settings of organisation, equipment, ventilation and density of people can allow not to wear masks permanently at one’s desk.

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