Osaka governor advocates for “eating masks”
In a bid to curtail the pandemic in Japan, the Osaka governor has recommended using “eating masks” when dining outside as a way to prevent COVID-19 transmission. These handheld masks are meant to be placed over the mouth when one is speaking during meals. However, netizens remain doubtful of their effectiveness.
Eating masks to cover one’s mouth during meals
Osaka governor demonstrating the use of the eating mask
Image credit: @nipponkairagi
On 6th April 2021, Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura appeared on CAST (キャスト), a TV programme under Asahi Television Broadcasting Corporation. During the show, he advocated for more people to use “食べれマスク” (taberemasuku; eating masks) while dining outside, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
These eating masks are triangular cardboard masks that are handheld. When dining out, you’re supposed to hold the mask over your mouth when you’re speaking during meals. Doing so will theoretically minimise droplets transfer – the main mode of transmission for COVID-19.
Eating masks implemented in some restaurants
Over the next few days, several restaurants in Osaka, such as Abeno Dining BUZZ and Teppan Olive, adopted the use of such eating masks.
Image credit: @abenobuzz
The eating masks feature creative designs, ranging from a pig mouth to a frankly admirable moustache.
While the effectiveness of the eating masks remains questionable, they certainly make for good photoshoot props.
Netizens’ reactions amidst Osaka’s worsening COVID-19 situation
Although eating masks continue to be rolled out across Osaka’s restaurants over the few weeks, netizens remain cynical about the strategy.
Image adapted from: @nipponkairagi
A Twitter user remarked, “Governor Yoshimura recommends eating masks. Speechless.”
Image adapted from: @jun_wishful
Another Twitter user commented, “Does this have any scientific backing? I forgot who, but an expert mentioned that droplets can remain in the air for 8 minutes, so this seems iffy.”
The scepticism over the eating masks isn’t without basis. Despite the implementation of the eating masks, Osaka’s COVID-19 situation has been worsening.
Image adapted from: Osaka COVID-19 Task Force
According to official statistics released by the Osaka Prefectural Government, Osaka recorded 1,220 COVID-19 cases on 18th April 2021. The number of cases recorded daily since 13th April 2021 have averaged over 1,000.
Osaka governor suggests “eating masks”
No matter how useful the eating masks really are, we hope that Japan can flatten the curve soon, and that its citizens will remain safe during these trying times.
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