Everyone has seen the viral videos on social media. Those with heated, sometimes violent exchanges about the wearing of masks between customers and employees in shops, airplanes and public transport.
However, you would have a hard time tracing an incident where someone was punished for wearing a mask.
Mahwah nativeRob Joseph said that happened when he and his brother attempted to board a United Airlines flight from Newark Liberty International Airport Narwall mask – a full face protection that filters the air in and out according to a design inspired by diving equipment – you should replace the devices with fabric covers, otherwise they are not allowed to fly. A United spokesman said it was inconsistent with their mask policy.
With contagious variants of the coronavirus across the country and the risk of eye contamination, Joseph said he wanted a mask with above-average coverage to limit his exposure during his first flight since March so he could return safely to his wife and young children could.
“Is it stupid? Absolutely. Is it something you want to see in public? Not exactly,” said Joseph, who was traveling to work with his company helping with Super Bowl safety. “But to have this calm for me and my family, I’m ready to take a few glances to get there safely.”
Joseph and his brother were planning to board a flight to Florida at 11 a.m. on January 23, when they were stopped several times by United employeesand handed surgical masks to wear. The brothers tried to explain their masks, gave staff cards information about how the $ 85 face coverings worked, but eventually committed to bid and affixed surgical masks over the plastic outside of their masks.
They went down the jetway to the plane, where they were stopped again, this time by a flight attendant.A similar situation developed and they were told it was against company policy to wear the Narwall mask.
“I advocate my case with the masks,” said Joseph, explaining that there are no vents, replaceable filters are used instead. He continued, “I would really like to be able to wear my own mask to ensure my own safety and the safety of everyone else on this plane.”
The argument ended with Joseph and his brother taking off the flight because he refused to take off the Narwall mask. And now the two have been separated from their hand luggage, which had to be checked because the flight was overbooked.
“I checked (her policy) on my phone and went through her line by line with her,” but to no avail, Joseph said, adding that the mask was physically inspected by Transportation Security Administration agents who signed them off as they left through security. The manager passed the complaint and information card to corporate headquarters ‘de-escalation team,’ said Joseph, who repeated the same policy and informed him that he was not permanently banned from flying United.
The new CDC mask regulations which went into effect Monday evening say masks with exhalation valves, such as the Narwall appears to be, are not acceptable. The rules also state that face shields must not be worn in place of a fabric or a disposable mask, but only over them. The rules do not consider face shields with integrated masks like the narwall.
The mask inspired by diving
Angry but desperate, Joseph and his brother waited seven hours for the next United flight to Florida and doubled up on the sheet and surgical masks.
“It doesn’t meet the criteria of the paper and cloth mask that everyone has seen a million times,” said Joseph, “but when I try to exceed this for my own safety and comfort, to protect my newborn.” Home and my family in danger – that’s my right. “
United spokesman Charles Hobart said the company’s safety compliance group reviewed the product, although he wouldn’t say if they spoke to Narwall about the concern or the design.
“Aside from the fact that there are air vents, there are some other variables that we notice with the mask. The filter needs to be replaced. With such a mask, there are concerns about hearing loss,” he said.
Alex Rattray, founder and inventor of the Narwall mask, said many of his customers got on flights with his mask design without any problems, but there have been some cases similar to Joseph’s.
“Narwall was specially developed to filter any exhalation, to have no ventilation openings, no direct exhaust valve, which of course would potentially endanger the people around the wearer,” says Rattray. “I came up with the idea of using a super high quality filter to filter your exhalations and inhalations and keep you and everyone safe.”
After hearing customer reports about problems on flights, Rattray said he had reached out to several airlines and “it was very difficult to get an answer”. As for United, Rattray said: “I don’t think we were in direct contact.”
Rattray’s idea for the mask came up in April, he founded the Baltimore-based company in May and launched the product in November. His product, using filter media tested by the biomedical laboratory company Nelson Labs, is being tested by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory for its “particulate filter efficiency and pressure differential of innovative respirators”. The evaluation of these types of products by the laboratory has accelerated due to the pandemic website.
“People who buy narwall tend to be much more vulnerable or live with someone who is vulnerable or visit someone who is vulnerable,” Rattray said. “You can imagine that being asked to take this off and wear a surgical mask that offers less protection to the wearer can be extremely distressing and frightening.”
Joseph said he checked with other airlines to see if his mask was an acceptable face cover and rebooked his return flight home.
Colleen Wilson covers Port Authority and NJ Transit for NorthJersey.com. Subscribe or activate your digital account today for unrestricted access to their work covering the area’s transport systems and how it affects your commute.