KRL Commuterline passengers urged to avoid single-layer face masks, neck gaiters

It’s not exactly a prohibition yet, but passengers of the KRL Commuterline in the Greater Jakarta Area are now advised to avoid wearing ineffective face coverings on board.

The capital’s busiest rail-based commute service posted an infographic this week, based on a study by Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force, outlining the common types of face masks and their effectiveness in protecting wearers from coronavirus transmissions. 

While medical masks and multi-layered cloth masks were deemed satisfactory, “scuba masks” — tight-fitting face coverings comprising a single layer of synthetic fabric — and “buff masks” aka neck gaiters were said to have 0-5 percent effectiveness in protecting the wearer.

Anne Purba, spokeswoman of KRL Commuterline management firm PT KCI, said today that there is no official ban yet on scuba masks and neck gaiters but passengers are urged to avoid them considering the possibility of droplets containing the coronavirus to circulate inside the air conditioned train carriages.

“Two or three layered cloth face masks and medical masks can reduce the risk of [transmission via] droplet that can still happen,” Anne said.

KRL Commuterline remained crowded with passengers during much of the pandemic, as many offices in Jakarta required their employees to work from the office. Recently, it was reported that COVID-19 clusters emerged from public transportation, which led to the suspension of the odd-even traffic policy and was one of the main factors behind Jakarta returning to stricter restrictions, with a focus on pressuring employers to allow their employees to work from home.

With stricter restrictions coming into effect yesterday, PT KCI reported that there was a significant drop of about 19 percent in the number of passengers during morning rush hour compared to the same time in the previous week. The reduction in passengers has allowed PT KCI to enforce other rules such as a cap of 74 passengers at a time on a train in order to allow for physical distancing.

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