Should the Netherlands make face masks mandatory?

This week’s coronavirus update showed that the number of new cases in the Netherlands had doubled since last week, which shows that the current measures are no longer taming the spread of the virus. Should the Netherlands follow other countries, and make face masks mandatory?

France, Germany and England have all made wearing a face mask mandatory while indoors. But the Netherlands has been very hesitant to follow suit. During the early stages of the crisis, not advising the public to wear masks was partly done to maximise supply for the healthcare sectors, but also because the RIVM didn’t think it would matter that much. However, now that people are required to wear non-medical face masks in public transport, that explanation no longer makes sense. So the following question is there to be answered:

Is it time to make face masks mandatory?

Professor Detlef Lohse from the University of Twente has been carrying out research on the role aerosols play in the spread of coronavirus. His study has shown so far that the droplets we leave behind in the air when we breathe can travel further than 1.5m, and that the virus can live in them for 30-40 times as long as was originally thought.

Masks could help enormously with minimising the spread of coronavirus through these droplets: not only do they limit the amount of droplets a person can spread, they also provide some protection from droplets from other people. If everyone is wearing a mask, then the virus has a much smaller chance of spreading. Lohse recommends making face masks mandatory in indoor spaces as soon as possible, especially to prepare for the autumn, when people will be spending more time indoors. In an interview with the AD, he said:

“I do not understand why the Netherlands still has not made wearing face masks mandatory.”

There are problems with face masks in certain settings, though. It’s hard to see how they could work in bars and restaurants, where people are drinking and eating. Unfortunately, these are also the settings where masks would be really helpful, as people are talking and laughing with their heads quite close together most of the time. Enforcing them in shops could also prove difficult: getting customers to pick up a basket when they enter a store is hard enough.

What do you think? Should the Netherlands make face masks mandatory? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature Image: DutchReview/Canva

Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


  1. It’d b a very good idea that everyone to wear a mask while indoor. As we know, many can be walking around, interacting with others while they show NO symptoms. At least until the vaccine is available for all countries
    Look at what’s happening in the US, where those States that don’t make wearing a mask mandatory, their cases keep going up. (Aside from having incompetent leaders)

  2. Yes. I don’t understand why they haven’t already. Most people who object to this “infringement of their liberty” do not seem to recognise that the rights people enjoy imply an equal and corresponding duty.

  3. Absolutely not. People at risk and anybody else are free to wear them. For the guy above that puts infringement of liberty between quotation marks, I wish you spend a day in a regime where liberty has been quashed in the name of safety, and then you’ll think twice before writing nonsense. Liberty is the most difficult thing to achieve and the easiest to lose, and we have never been closer to losing it permanently to a pandemic that has killed almost in 5 months as many as die every day of car crashes.

    • Hard to argue with that logic, but we’re dealing with a lot of emotional people who either can’t or won’t think and research for themselves. This is *not* bubonic plague or smallpox. Emotional people are willing to risk their health by getting injected with an unproven cocktail of dubious ingredients (with zero liability for the manufacturers) for a virus that has an astoundingly low mortality rate –especially when treated *early* and *at proper dosage* with hydroxychloriquine and zinc.


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