Mask up between bites? California’s advice to diners prompts confusion and mockery

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The California governor’s office wants people who dine in restaurants to put their masks back on their faces “in between bites.”

The recommendation appears to contradict advice from the World Health Organization, which warns mask wearers to avoid touching their masks as much as possible, and to wash their hands before and after touching it — hardly practical to do at a dining table between mouthfuls.

The tweet on the subject issued by the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday also seemed to contradict itself. An accompanying graphic instructs diners to “minimize the number of times you take your mask off.” An illustration shows a diner wearing her mask while perusing a menu, maskless while taking a bite, and then wearing the mask again with an empty plate.

The unusual and confusing suggestion to take the mask on and off repeatedly throughout a meal attracted mockery online. “It’s confirmed, I live in the dumbest state,” one Twitter user responded.

As most states do in some form, California requires mask-wearing in public spaces. Many counties in the state restrict restaurants to outdoor seating only, or limit their indoor seating to 25 percent of capacity. The state has reported more than 840,000 cases of the virus so far, and more than 16,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Experts have taken different approaches to mask-wearing while dining out. In an interview with “The Daily Show” last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he wears his mask around his neck while eating and drinking in public, and then places it over his face “while you’re waiting for the waiter” or during other lulls in the meal.

NYTIMES

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