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Visitors to LA MOCA must wear medical grade masks

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As the world grapples with the fast-spreading Omicron variant, health experts are increasingly recommending the use of medical-grade masks instead of cloth face coverings to help prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Although no local, state or federal law mandates the use of certain masks over others, a West Coast museum has taken matters into its own hands, revamping its masking policy this week.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA) now requires visitors to arrive with a surgical mask, KN95, N95 or KF94. If the visitor does not have one of the approved masks, MOCA can provide a surgical mask, a museum spokesperson told Hyperallergic.

Cloth masks, neck warmers, triangular bandanas with open chins and face coverings containing valves, mesh or holes of any kind are not acceptable, the museum said in a statement. Instagram post.

The move came shortly after the California Department of Public Health issued an update advice ranking mask effectiveness, with N95 masks being the gold standard. KF94 and KF95 came in second, while cloth masks with three or more layers of fabric were labeled the least effective.

Wearing any mask is better than none to curb the spread of COVID-19, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) did not change its guidelines to exclude cloth masks at this stage. However, research shows that some face coverings are much more protective than others: a recent study found that the risk of transmission can be reduced by a factor of 75 when infectious and susceptible people wear N95-style masks (compared to regular surgical masks).

Institutions and businesses are finding ways to adapt to the rapidly changing virus landscape as Omicron cases continue to soar at national scale. Like MOCA, several universities have also Cloth face coverings prohibited, while the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York requires booster injections for all its employees.

But don’t throw away your cloth mask just yet: MOCA says you can still wear one, as long as it’s combined with a medical-grade option. The LA Museum and many others continue to sell artist-designed fabric coverings in their gift shops. Double masking is only advised for surgical masks; N95 masks should not be used with other face coverings.

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