Masks have been compulsory on public transport in Switzerland since July 6th.
According to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, this must be a “hygiene mask or industrially manufactured textile mask”.
Despite this, Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes reports that plastic visors “can be found regularly in public – including on public transport”.
Several spokespeople from transit authorities across Switzerland have spoken out against the use of plastic visors, saying they are ineffective against the transmission of the virus.
“A protective visor is not a mask”, PostBus spokesperson Valérie Gerl told 20 Minutes.
The Swiss government has previously warned against plastic visors, saying not only are they less effective than masks but they may give wearers a false sense of security.
Daniel Dauwalder, spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health, told The Local that the government's official position was that visors are “no substitute for face masks”.
“They protect the eyes from possible infection through droplets, but the possibility of infection via the nose or mouth cannot be excluded,” Dauwalder said.
“Visors only serve as a complementary form of protection measure in conjunction with a mask.”
In July, a coronavirus outbreak at a hotel in the canton of Graubünden shed light on the effectiveness of plastic visors – or lack thereof.
Health officials in the canton said all of those who were infected wore plastic face shields, while those who avoided infection wore face masks.
Rudolf Leuthold, head of the cantonal health department in Graubünden, said the plastic face shields were the common denominator in infections.
“It has been shown that only those employees who had plastic visors were infected. There was not a single infection among employees with a mask.”
Ejected for wearing a plastic visor on public transport?
Gerl said anyone wearing a plastic mask on a bus would not be complying with the law, although she told 20 Minutes that drivers would not personally eject those who don’t comply.
“The drivers do not take on any police duties. With us, the control teams would point out to people with protective visors that protective visors are not masks.”
Wiebke Sander, a spokesperson for the Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (Lake Zurich Navigation Company) said the masks “did not offer sufficient security”.
Passengers on the company’s ship and boats would be told to purchase a mask on board.
The Swiss Federal Transit Authority (SBB) told 20 Minutes that they were satisfied with the amount of people who wore masks on board, saying the quota was “still very high”.