Swedish public transport operator to give out free face masks

Swedish public transport operator to give out free face masks
A volunteer hands out face masks to train passengers in Spain, where face masks have been mandatory in many situations since May. Photo: AP/Emilio Morenatti/TT
The public transport operator in Skåne, southern Sweden, announced that from next week it will give out 50,000 face masks to its customers to support safe travel.

Masks aren't required for people using its transport, but those who have a season ticket and wish to wear one will be able to collect the equipment for free.

“Since the people of Skåne have shown that they want to travel in a sustainable and fossil-free way, provided that it can be done in a safe way for everyone, Skånetrafiken sees two measures that can increase the sense of safety,” the company said in a statement.

“One is that we learn to sit next to each other but direct our faces away from each other on board. The second is that we offer our travellers mouth protection so that they can show each other consideration in public transport.”

The masks are provided by the region, which is responsible for healthcare and reported a good supply of masks.

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How to get your mask

The masks can be collected from Skånetrafiken's customer service centres in Malmö, Lund, Kristianstad and Helsingborg starting from July 14th.

A maximum of two masks per person will be handed out, and are available to customers with any form of season pass, including senior passes. 

What does Sweden say about face masks?

Unlike in countries such as the UK and Germany, Sweden has not introduced a requirement for face masks on public transport and does not recommend them among the general public, even after the World Health Organisation recommended that governments advise mask usage in crowded environments.

Representatives of the Swedish Public Health Agency have repeatedly said the science backing masks is not strong enough to balance out the fears, and that it could give people a false sense of security, leading them to leave home while showing symptoms or relax on other proven measures such as hygiene.

Just two percent of the Swedish population have started wearing masks due to the coronavirus, a recent survey showed, although that figure rises to 15 percent in so-called 'vulnerable areas', where residents were shown to be following coronavirus guidelines from other sources such as the WHO in addition to Sweden's authorities.


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