Which mask should we be wearing?

Which mask should we be wearing?

Well, this is all rather embarrassing.

Ever since lockdown was lifted here in Delhi and we were allowed out to exercise, I have been running/walking every day wearing a bandana. I am scrupulous about covering up when I run past other people in the park, and I have taken issue here with people running mask-less.

I wear a buff/bandana and (like most people, I imagine) when there is no one around, I pull the bandana/buff down, then when the next person heaves into view, I pull it up and cover my mouth and nose. And on it goes – bandana up/down/up/down. And repeat.

I feel that I have been a responsible citizen/runner, protecting both myself and other people around me…and yet…

The latest study from Duke University ranks the buff/bandana/neck gaiter as next to useless – here’s the link.

This is worrying, because I have tried running in a 3-layer cloth mask and my glasses steam up & I feel I can’t breathe.

I have run in those light surgical masks, but

(a) I understood we were not to use them, but rather save them for the medical professionals who need them and

(b) they get horrifically soggy after a short time.

For those of you who may not know India, the summers here are brutal – crazily hot and crazily humid. Hence the sogginess of the mask. So they get thrown away and the garbage crisis only gets worse.

I am not using my winter pollution N95 mask with a valve because that was recently deemed no good by the powers that be, since it expels your air, which could be bad for other people.

So the bandana seemed ideal. Lightweight, wash it after every use, quick drying…but not much good, we are now told.

So, what’s the option?

Further discomfort?

More disposable trash?

Use my N95 & everyone else be hanged?

Or carry on with my bandana?

Oh this wretched, wretched virus. It makes even the healthiest of activities a right royal pain.


  1. Frankly, I think a face covering of any sort is enough if you are not going to be face to face, talking to a person for a ‘while’—which is likely the case when you are out exercising.
    We are lucky here as we have to wear a mask only in shops. It’s been brutally hot here past few days and my heart went out to everyone back home who are having to wear a mask every time they step out—including out running. You are one of the most sensible and responsible people/runners around, so do what you are doing—use your judgement and pull the bandana up & down like you are doing, wash, re-use. X

    Kathakoli Dasgupta
    1. Thanks, as ever, Kathakoli for your thoughtful input. You’re correct – I don’t talk to people while out running, which is why I feel that my current regime is OK. Oh, this wretched virus…

      Christine Pemberton
  2. I’m not a runner… and, as Kathakoli says, we don’t have to wear any face covering in any open air setting. For what it’s worth here’s my twopenn’orth. I understand that masks mainly protect others from you; protection for you from them is very second order. So, unless you have any reason to think you might be a risk to others (seems extremely unlikely given what I know of your current lifestyle!), what face covering you use won’t make much difference. More important is that you do all the other things we’re all doing to protect yourself from others. xx

    Jane Binstead
  3. The research is hopelessly contradictory but what they all seem to agree on is that putting a mask on and off is the worst thing you can do as you transfer any virus from the mask to your hands, face and anything else you touch.

    So whatever you wear don’t touch it and don’t keep removing it. I have to say I find it impossible not to, as did the vet who saw the cat!

    Since the introduction of masks in shops in the UK people don’t keep their distance and are often aggressive if you’re in their way.

    With all the sweat generated by running a mask is pretty useless in protecting others so I’d go for the option that is most comfortable. And contact lenses?

    1. It’s so difficult to know what to do, isn’t it? But the fact remains that wearing a mask is the law here, so we don’t have much choice. Except that so many people, runners especially, choose to disregard the rules.


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