Should you wear a sneeze guard instead of a face mask? Here’s what experts say

First came the face mask, which the Centers for Disease Control officially recommended that everyone wear in public back at the beginning of April. If you don’t already have one (have you been living under a rock?), here is how you can make your own DIY face mask at home.

Up next in the coronavirus pandemic precautionary measure/safeguard/fashion statement is the sneeze guard. A sneeze guard is a plexiglass and vinyl shield that protects your face from the coronavirus-carrying droplets that are released when people sneeze, cough or speak.

What are sneeze guards?

You may have already seen large plexiglass sneeze guards in grocery stores, or in images online that show what the future of your gym might look like.

According to Reuters, grocery stores in the U.S. began installing plexiglass shields back in March in order to protect cashiers by blocking virus-containing droplets that would otherwise hit cashiers while interacting with customers.

The CDC recommends that health establishments that deal with non-COVID-19 public health activities that require face-to-face interaction with clients “install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, if feasible.”

It turns out that you can also get your own personal sneeze guard, whether you want one that sits between you and another person or one that you can wear on your face.

The different types of sneeze guards

Sneeze guard dividers are just like the ones you have seen at the grocery store. You can use these in your home if you have visitors, or in the office if your employer has requested that you come back to work.

A personal sneeze guard is one that you can wear over your face while out in public. These devices will help you keep droplets away from your face.

There are some that can attach to a hat or visor, and some that come as their own visors or hats.

Do you need to wear a sneeze guard in public?

As of right now the CDC has not recommended that members of the public wear their own personal sneeze guards. The organization recommends that if you do need to go out in public, you wear a cloth face covering.

Cloth face coverings should follow the following guidelines:

• fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
• be secured with ties or ear loops
• include multiple layers of fabric
• allow for breathing without restriction
• be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or
change to shape

While the CDC does not recommend that the public needs to wear sneeze guards, the extra plastic can add a protective layer, whether you wear it over your face or place it between you and your coworkers, that is, if we ever end up going back to work.

For those who are at higher risk for severe illness, like older individuals or those that are immunocompromised, it could be a good idea to wear a sneeze guard when you must go out in public.

Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.