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COVID Camino Mask Strategies?

Mercutio

Let us walk together
Past OR future Camino
CF 2019
CF 2022 (planned)
I'm writing to solicit advice about the logistics of managing masks on my upcoming second Camino Frances. Other threads here thoroughly hash out mask/no mask and risk decisions so, please, let's not go there. Suffice to say, I plan to wear a mask indoors, whenever I'm in close-quarters, and if I feel like it's a sensible precaution. And I'll be staying in private rooms.

At home, I wear a KN95 mask for a day and then hang it up to air dry for a week before reusing it. Seven days, seven masks. I reuse dried masks three times, so each mask is used four times and then whole lot is replaced each month. Sound extreme? A friend who's an epidemiologist with Doctors Without Borders and has worked with Ebola in Congo recommended this system and it works for me without breaking the mask budget.

In albergues and hostals "hanging up masks to air dry" for any extended time will be difficult. My friend recommends using seven paper (not plastic, they'll encourage bacterial growth) bags to contain and dry used masks. That's a bit of a logistical challenge but doable. However, I thought I'd ask those of you who have worn masks on the Camino how you handled them, rotated them, etc. when off the trail. Many thanks!
 
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Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
You’ve walked before so you’ll know that an icon of the Camino, nearly as distinctive as the shell, is the underwear and socks pinned to the outside of the backpack.
I do not understand the paper bag solution. Is it suggested that you stuff a used mask in a paper bag? And then do what with it? Stick it in the bottom of your pack for a week and hope it doesn’t taste too nasty when you dig it out?
Equating Ebola and a Coronavirus, even the one we are still learning to live with, is a step to far IMO. I think I’d seek a second opinion
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I am a nurse academic and I work at a university. Currently I continue to wear a mask indoors when around others and don't go out to eat unless it is a take away. I wear either an N95 that is fitted to me or a KN95. Your photo shows facial hair and it is important to understand that the tight fit is impaired by a beard or stubble on the face and makes you mask less protective.

We plan to take 4 KN95 masks each with us in 2 weeks when we travel. My husband was on the Camino last fall and said masks are readily available for purchase so we will purchase new ones as the old ones become unusable.

We are also making a plan in the event either of us becomes ill.
 

YYC on the go

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I use the same method at home - 7 masks, 7 days, 7 paper bags labelled with days of the week. A Monday mask, Tuesday mask, etc. I too don't want to break the 'mask budget,' and while being quadruple vaccinated (yeah for Canada!), I still want to stay safe. I'm not sure what is going to be possible here...

The one mask per day rule recommended by epidemiologists is based on a full work-day, and assumes 8 hours of continuous wear. I'm thinking that if mask wearing is limited to indoor use (I'm staying in pousadas/ B&Bs), I might wear the same mask over 2 days, as I won't need one for sleeping at night. And, 8 hours of mask usage will not be accumulated in indoor spaces - 20 - 30 minutes at a time.

Then, the mask can be dried, in the sun, nature's disinfectant, by being pinned to the back of my pack. It still means multiple masks and frankly, I'm still not sure how to best handle this.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2019) Camino Portuguese (2022)
I'm writing to solicit advice about the logistics of managing masks on my upcoming second Camino Frances. Other threads here thoroughly hash out mask/no mask and risk decisions so, please, let's not go there. Suffice to say, I plan to wear a mask indoors, whenever I'm in close-quarters, and if I feel like it's a sensible precaution. And I'll be staying in private rooms.

At home, I wear a KN95 mask for a day and then hang it up to air dry for a week before reusing it. Seven days, seven masks. I reuse dried masks three times, so each mask is used four times and then whole lot is replaced each month. Sound extreme? A friend who's an epidemiologist with Doctors Without Borders and has worked with Ebola in Congo recommended this system and it works for me without breaking the mask budget.

In albergues and hostals "hanging up masks to air dry" for any extended time will be difficult. My friend recommends using seven paper (not plastic, they'll encourage bacterial growth) bags to contain and dry used masks. That's a bit of a logistical challenge but doable. However, I thought I'd ask those of you who have worn masks on the Camino how you handled them, rotated them, etc. when off the trail. Many thanks!
I just returned from my Camino. I used one mask per day; but I did not use the mask when outdoors. I stayed in private accommodations. When indoors in common areas I wore a mask. I only ate meals indoors three times.. When eating outdoors; if my server wore a mask; out of respect, I did too with; the exception of eating. I was traveling for 24 days and I brought enough masks for 24 days plus masks for the airplane.

Just before I left for the Camino I was at Safeway Grocery Store. I noticed a sign that said free masks. I asked about it and the pharmacist said didn't you know that most pharmacies give masks for free? How many do you need?" She gave me two cases of N95 masks! 100 masks in each case; and she said... please come back for more we received them weekly and no one wants them.

If you live in the US, you might check with your local pharmacy to see if they offer free masks.

Buen Camino....
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Yes, our grocery store gave out a folding N95's from 3M for a while. As with all N95's the straps go over the head so they are slight more difficult to put on, but if fitted properly they provide the best filtration.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Unless you are particularly vulnerable or are covid-positive, for the amount of time you will be wearing a mask, I think that rotating 7 masks is overly complicated

It is my understanding that the virus will be inactive after only a couple of days on a mask surface. The 7-day strategy is suggested as an "easy" way to manage them at home. However, being on the camino with a backpack is different! I wear one mask on my sleeve for easy access and carry some spares to replace it when necessary. If you want, have another mask or two in paper bags or exposed to the sun awaiting their turns.

[EDITED to reflect what I do, rather than to be a recommendation, in light of some points made by @rgutena in post #19 below.]
 
Last edited:

Geoff Shepherd

I’m the big fella on the left.
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: 2018,19, scheduled May-June22.
Currently on the CF - in Villavante, just outside Astorga. No-one is wearing masks except when you go into a Farmacia. Certainly there are no mask wearers that I have come across in albergues - nor in restaurants. In the bigger cities there are a few mask wearers in the general crowd - would be well less than 1% in my opinion. The CF looks pre-covid normal to me - and I have walked it twice previously. Your call of course.
 

PeteF

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Sept 15 2018
I'm writing to solicit advice about the logistics of managing masks on my upcoming second Camino Frances. Other threads here thoroughly hash out mask/no mask and risk decisions so, please, let's not go there. Suffice to say, I plan to wear a mask indoors, whenever I'm in close-quarters, and if I feel like it's a sensible precaution. And I'll be staying in private rooms.

At home, I wear a KN95 mask for a day and then hang it up to air dry for a week before reusing it. Seven days, seven masks. I reuse dried masks three times, so each mask is used four times and then whole lot is replaced each month. Sound extreme? A friend who's an epidemiologist with Doctors Without Borders and has worked with Ebola in Congo recommended this system and it works for me without breaking the mask budget.

In albergues and hostals "hanging up masks to air dry" for any extended time will be difficult. My friend recommends using seven paper (not plastic, they'll encourage bacterial growth) bags to contain and dry used masks. That's a bit of a logistical challenge but doable. However, I thought I'd ask those of you who have worn masks on the Camino how you handled them, rotated them, etc. when off the trail. Many thanks!
Hi
I’m 8 days in, no one is wearing a mask. You will be the only one.
Buen Camino
 
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YYC on the go

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I have been in Spain for several weeks now - on the Invierno, in Santiago and Madrid. While more people are without masks out in the public, I would not call it strange to see a mask anywhere, especially indoors.
Agreed - just because people aren't wearing masks, or being required to wear masks doesn't mean that airborne viruses have disappeared. Sounds like the best thing to do is to bring an initial supply of masks from home and replenish as necessary.
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2012 ViaFrancigena 2016 ViaPodiensis 2022
Recently home from the Via Podiensis for about a month's traveling. I used the same thing I use at home and have the same philosophy of masking up inside. I found a company called Happy Masks (begun by physicians) that are washable KN95s. They have five layers, are incredibly comfortable and ARE WASHABLE!! I took 3 masks, washed the daily one as directed on the website. Here's the link: https://www.happymasks.com
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I have been in Spain for several weeks now - on the Invierno, in Santiago and Madrid. While more people are without masks out in the public, I would not call it strange to see a mask anywhere, especially indoors.
I've been in Portugal for a month, and there are many people wearing masks indoors and out here.
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
Just got home from month long GR65 trip, wore masks indoors because Covid was not kind to us. We are also a medical family, clinical practice based on research. Be grateful if your family didn't experience what we had to go through.
I sympathise if it involved illness or loss; but it’s not a competition. Thankfully we can all make our own decisions within the law. No criticism implied or intended.
 

rgutena

Member
Past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata (2022?)
A few things to note, based on lots of information I have read over the last few months since Omicron emerged:
- the coronavirus could take up to a few days (not a few hours) to die, hence the common advice for a 'rotation'system if you want to reuse
- some types of masks are not supposed be exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period of time as their filtering properties could be damaged by UV light; you should check whether this applies to your type of mask before hanging your 'rotating' masks on your backpack for several days; letting the mask sit inside a paper bag for a few days is a safer way to sanitise it
- putting a mask on your arm for easy access is not recommended by medical experts (presumably because that makes it easier for your mask to touch things that it shouldn't).

What I plan to do on my next Camino will be similar to what I have been doing for months back home:
- each night, hang up a used mask to let it air dry overnight
- once completely dried and put inside a labelled paper bag (1 = Monady, 2 = Tuesday etc), it should be safe to go inside my backpack
- for easy access during the day, I would put a mask (in a paper bag) in an outside (open) pouch on my backpack.

I can't see what is so complicated about this; definitely not a reason to 'stay home' instead.
 

SunnydCamino

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May 2022
I'm writing to solicit advice about the logistics of managing masks on my upcoming second Camino Frances. Other threads here thoroughly hash out mask/no mask and risk decisions so, please, let's not go there. Suffice to say, I plan to wear a mask indoors, whenever I'm in close-quarters, and if I feel like it's a sensible precaution. And I'll be staying in private rooms.

At home, I wear a KN95 mask for a day and then hang it up to air dry for a week before reusing it. Seven days, seven masks. I reuse dried masks three times, so each mask is used four times and then whole lot is replaced each month. Sound extreme? A friend who's an epidemiologist with Doctors Without Borders and has worked with Ebola in Congo recommended this system and it works for me without breaking the mask budget.

In albergues and hostals "hanging up masks to air dry" for any extended time will be difficult. My friend recommends using seven paper (not plastic, they'll encourage bacterial growth) bags to contain and dry used masks. That's a bit of a logistical challenge but doable. However, I thought I'd ask those of you who have worn masks on the Camino how you handled them, rotated them, etc. when off the trail. Many thanks!
Hi! Just got back from the CF and also stayed in private rooms. I don’t think you’ll have a problem hanging anything in a private room! We brought a travel clothesline that came with clips and would set that up sometimes (for clothes, not masks) and also hung clothes over chair backs and out the window if we had one. At the very least bring some twine and a couple clothespins and you’ll be good to go!

Husband and I wore masks in all indoor settings and saw plenty of Spaniards wearing them as well, some wearing them outdoors even. Lots of people in food services also are wearing them. They are also still required in Spain on all busses, trains, and the metro in Madrid.

Agree with the poster who said you won’t have to wear them that often. We dined outdoors as well, so we only had to wear them briefly every day. We each stuffed about 10 or 15 in our backpack for 40 days. Didn’t take up much space bc they were packed flat. We are extremely happy and relieved to have made it back Covid free!
 
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Former member 95219

Guest
I'm writing to solicit advice about the logistics of managing masks on my upcoming second Camino Frances. Other threads here thoroughly hash out mask/no mask and risk decisions so, please, let's not go there. Suffice to say, I plan to wear a mask indoors, whenever I'm in close-quarters, and if I feel like it's a sensible precaution. And I'll be staying in private rooms.

At home, I wear a KN95 mask for a day and then hang it up to air dry for a week before reusing it. Seven days, seven masks. I reuse dried masks three times, so each mask is used four times and then whole lot is replaced each month. Sound extreme? A friend who's an epidemiologist with Doctors Without Borders and has worked with Ebola in Congo recommended this system and it works for me without breaking the mask budget.

In albergues and hostals "hanging up masks to air dry" for any extended time will be difficult. My friend recommends using seven paper (not plastic, they'll encourage bacterial growth) bags to contain and dry used masks. That's a bit of a logistical challenge but doable. However, I thought I'd ask those of you who have worn masks on the Camino how you handled them, rotated them, etc. when off the trail. Many thanks!
Gosh I had no idea about all this!. I rarely wear a mask now unless rules dictate, but I just used 1 mask until I lost it, usually within a week!
 
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rometimed

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(SJPdP: 2015, MAY/JUNE2022!!! ) (Eng Way: 2015)
Agreed - just because people aren't wearing masks, or being required to wear masks doesn't mean that airborne viruses have disappeared. Sounds like the best thing to do is to bring an initial supply of masks from home and replenish as necessary.

I've been in Spain about 1 month now, on Camino 26 days.

I'd say locals using masks are maybe 10%. Albergue and hotel hosts maybe 40%...? Zero waiters and restaraunt workers (that I can recall). 100% of pharmacy workers.

I'd say pilgrims is vanishingly few. If it's 5% who wear a mask at any point I'd be surprised.

I brought masks and tests. I had a cough a few days in but have tested myself every 4 days and no covid. 🤷‍♂️

I was asking around a few days ago and only 1 person had heard of any pilgrim catching covid during the last month. A middle aged guy who had to self quarantine in a Burgos hotel for 10 days.
 
Past OR future Camino
planing the camino May/June 2022
I've been in Spain about 1 month now, on Camino 26 days.

I'd say locals using masks are maybe 10%. Albergue and hotel hosts maybe 40%...? Zero waiters and restaraunt workers (that I can recall). 100% of pharmacy workers.

I'd say pilgrims is vanishingly few. If it's 5% who wear a mask at any point I'd be surprised.

I brought masks and tests. I had a cough a few days in but have tested myself every 4 days and no covid. 🤷‍♂️

I was asking around a few days ago and only 1 person had heard of any pilgrim catching covid during the last month. A middle aged guy who had to self quarantine in a Burgos hotel for 10 days.
I am on Camino day26 to be specific. I wish I wore mask more. I just tested positive. 3 days to go of private rooms. If I test negative on day 5 back to regular albergues. I know who I was exposed to and I wish I could find her because she is still sleeping in dorms. We shared a dorm 3 nights ago and I saw her walking this morning. I sound just like she did. So frustrating.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I am on Camino day26 to be specific. I wish I wore mask more. I just tested positive. 3 days to go of private rooms. If I test negative on day 5 back to regular albergues. I know who I was exposed to and I wish I could find her because she is still sleeping in dorms. We shared a dorm 3 nights ago and I saw her walking this morning. I sound just like she did. So frustrating.
I had a very similar experience on the Portuguese Camino.
I slept mostly in private rooms, but three nights an albergue was the best or only option.
 

Saty

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Walked partially in 2015
Happy masks are amazing! Especially for children! They conform and fit well and seem to be comfortable for the kids too. My 2 year old and I just finished the camino Frances on Tuesday and we wore masks as needed. We are in fisterra right now and the grocery store employees most always have one on. In Santiago as well in the grocery stores the workers have a mask on. More than the bigger cities, the smaller towns seem to have more employees wearing masks as well as of course the elderly. I have most definitely seen masks everywhere so for someone to say no one is wearing a mask I would like to disagree! It’s still required if you are taking a bus tour or any public transportation. I learned on the way over here at least in Spain it’s 6 years and older but I kept my kid in his mask on the plane. We didn’t wear one when walking outdoors but insides sometimes depending on the situation.

People are still wearing masks in Spain!
Recently home from the Via Podiensis for about a month's traveling. I used the same thing I use at home and have the same philosophy of masking up inside. I found a company called Happy Masks (begun by physicians) that are washable KN95s. They have five layers, are incredibly comfortable and ARE WASHABLE!! I took 3 masks, washed the daily one as directed on the website. Here's the link: https://www.happymasks.c
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I'd say pilgrims is vanishingly few. If it's 5% who wear a mask at any point I'd be surprised.
Maybe on the Camino Frances, and maybe in a pilgrim or tourist setting.

100% of bus and train passengers wear masks. The operators of 2 out of 2 small hostals where I stayed in Madrid wore them.

Mask wearing has turned into an optional decision, which is fine with me. People still wear them often - either because they have symptoms themselves, because they are vulnerable, or because they are reciprocating the mask-wearing of the person they are interacting with.
Zero waiters and restaraunt workers (that I can recall).
I would have said 30% of restaurant workers but fewer customers.
I was asking around a few days ago and only 1 person had heard of any pilgrim catching covid during the last month.
We have had several active forum members report their own cases of Covid. In fact 2 people directly participating on this very thread got Covid while on the Camino. So, this might be an indicator of the accuracy of your other estimates.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2019) Camino Portuguese (2022)
Mask wearing on transportation is a must and should be taken seriously. I took the nonstop Flixbus from Santiago back to Porto two weeks ago. In addition to the bus driver an attendant was working on the bus; I assumed he was security.

Two people in separate areas of the bus did not have their masks on. A young man and an older woman. The security person saw this and started yelling at them from the front to put their masks on. The young man complied, but the older woman did not. The security person got up, went to the women and yelled at her again she started to say something and he told her to shut up. She said to him "you shut up."

The next thing I knew we were driving into the Vigo bus station. The police boarded the bus, and took her off. They questioned passengers around her about the incident and then they arrested her! She was a very old woman. Our bus arrived in Porto 1.5 hours late.

I also observed a situation on a train from Sintra back to Lisbon last week. The train stopped at a scheduled stop and multiple transportation police boarded the train. Their purpose was to enforce masks. Anyone not wearing a mask was asked to put one on.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2019) Camino Portuguese (2022)
Hi Trecile,

I am glad to hear that your surgery went well and you will be able to travel home soon. I started my Camino from Porto when you started from Lisbon. I was so sad to hear about the issues you had on the Camino but it sounds like things are getting better and that your Husband has been able to be with you.

Enjoy your last days in Porto. I miss it already! I brought home samples of port for my husband and we have been enjoying them every evening. It's just not the same as drinking port in Porto :)
 

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