Wearing a face mask in public will soon become compulsory for residents in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire amid a major coronavirus outbreak. Residents in New South Wales are also being urged to consider wearing face masks as Sydney grapples with getting a growing infection rate under control. If you’ve been caught without a usable face mask, don’t fret — all you need is a sock and some scissors to make your own.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced face masks will be mandatory for people in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11.59pm on Wednesday 22 July.
Those caught in public spaces without a face mask or a valid excuse for not wearing one will be subject to a $200 fine.
Acceptable excuses include: a valid medical reason, anyone aged under 12, those who can’t do their jobs while wearing one (such as those working in a call centre) or if you’re running or exercising.
“If you are out of your home for one of the four permitted reasons, then you need to be wearing a mask and I stress, or a face covering,” Premier Andrews announced on Sunday.
“It need not be a hospital-grade mask, it need not be one of the handmade masks like I was wearing when I came in today. It can be a scarf, it can be a home-made mask.”
So do these non-medical masks we're all meant to be wearing actually do anything?
Well yes, yes they almost certainly do. Here's a thread about the current science.
Let's start by explaining this striking picture of a researcher speaking in a laser scattering chamber.
— Jeremy Howard (@jeremyphoward) June 19, 2020
This means it doesn’t have to be one of those fancy $50 masks — a sock will do.
Let’s make a face mask out of a sock
The sock hack, uploaded originally by Safia Aggoune on TikTok, has actually been around for a few months given the virus’ spread has been more severe internationally. It should be noted that a sock likely won’t completely block out any of the viral particles but it should decrease the spread of bigger droplets, and that fact alone makes it worthwhile enough.
The best part about the sock hack is that a sock is something we all likely have around the house, and it won’t break the bank. Ideally, you’ll be able to make a few sock masks until you can secure something with a removable filter that might offer further protection.
The simplest DIY mask yet – all you is a sock and a scissors pic.twitter.com/xYU0ZjHsSV
— donal scannell (@donalscannell) May 11, 2020
To get started, grab an ankle sock — choose a sock size that corresponds best with your face — and cut off a good portion of the toe section so the ankle and the toe section are equidistant from the heel.
Then cut down the non-heel fold of the sock so it becomes a rectangle shape with the nose section looking like a heel or nose.
You’ll then need to fold it over against the existing crease so that you re-form the rectangle shape with the ‘nose’ the other way. Finally, you’ll need to chop off the corners opposite the ‘nose’ side and make two incisions from the crease side — these will form your ear holes.
As a reminder, you should really only be using your sock mask once and then chucking it straight into the wash, or into a sealed container until it’s ready to go into the washing machine. This way, you can limit any spread of germs.
Given you’re chopping up a single sock, you should be able to sacrifice its pair too.
If you have more materials, level up your mask making
If you have a bit more time on your hands, you can make slightly more sophisticated masks. Victoria’s health department, the DHHS, provides a handy guide on how to construct DIY cloth masks, but you’ll need a few more materials than you do for the humble sock mask.
Still, if you have extra time on your hands and few old shirts and shopping bags, it might be worth making a few and helping out others who are struggling to find a mask right now.