Guidance on the use of masks by the general population

Issued by the Director General of Health


Is it mandatory to wear a mask?

Yes in some places. The Government mandates the use of masks by all persons who:

  • stay or access indoor spaces with several people:
    • commercial establishments and services
    • public services and buildings
    • educational establishments and day care centers
  • use public transport


It is important to remember that the use of a mask is an additional protection measure against social distance, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. The general population will be able to use community masks and those who belong to the risk group should wear surgical masks.

What types of masks are there?

There are three types of masks:

  • respirators – personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals
  • surgical masks – a device that prevents the transmission of infectious agents from people who wear the mask to others
  • non-surgical, community or social use masks – devices of different textile materials, intended for the general population


What kind of mask should I wear?

The general population can use community or social (non-surgical) masks, favouring those that have the “Approved COVID-19 Masks” seal. You must follow the instructions for use, conservation and disinfection in the information leaflet.

This certification resulted from a group of experts with technical skills in several areas, including the Directorate-General for Health, INFARMED, the Food and Economic Security Authority (ASAE) and the Portuguese Institute of Quality, among others. The CITEVE (Technological Center for the Textile and Clothing) provides a list of manufacturers of certified masks.

Should risk groups wear a mask?

Yes. All people included in the risk groups for COVID-19 , are considered more vulnerable and must wear a surgical mask whenever they leave the house.

What is the minimum age for wearing a mask?

Under Article 13b it states it is……..”mandatory for access to or permanence in commercial and service spaces and establishments, in services and buildings serving the public and in educational establishments and day care centres by teaching and non-teaching staff and students over six years” 

Does the visor replace the mask?

No. The mask is the device that allows to cover the mouth and nose (barrier method) protecting the droplets that are expelled through sneezing, coughing or speaking. The visor can be used, but always as a complement to the mask.

How should I put on a mask?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based solution (before putting on the mask);
  • Put the mask in the correct position. The folding edge should face upwards and the coloured face outwards;
  • Hold the mask by the support / elastic lines and adapt to each ear;
  • Adjust the mask close to the nose and chin, without touching the face of the mask.


How should I remove a mask?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based solution;
  • Remove the mask just by holding the support / elastic lines;
  • Keep the mask away from the face and clothing, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask;
  • Place the mask in the appropriate container and wash your hands again.


It is stressed that wearing masks must be accompanied by other measures, already recommended, such as social distancing, frequent hand washing,   and respiratory hygiene . These masks differ from surgical masks and therefore the materials used in their production are not prescribed, although regulatory bodies will be looking at this shortly.

The reason for this decision to recommend the wearing of masks for the general population is because recent studies have shown that the wearing of masks can reduce the transmission of the virus into the air. An infected individual can transmit the virus ,  two days before symptoms commence, and at this stage the viral load is high,

SCP advises – Help your neighbour by purchasing for them as well if they cannot get out to the shops.




DGS Information PDF 009-2020 13th April ENGLISH

Translated by a registered translator on a voluntary basis.

Original PDF in Portuguese here



New complete guide – easy to understand and use for education.



Covid-19: Social masks will be cotton and/or polyester – Infarmed

Lisbon, April 14th (Lusa) – The President of Infarmed the National Authority for Medicament and Health Products, advised today that social masks, which have started to be produced by the national textile industry according to defined specifications, can be made of cotton or polyester and that many will be reusable.

Rui Ivo spoke at the daily press conference about the Covid-19 pandemic, held at the Ministry of Health, about a standard for the industry to start making non-surgical masks for general use of the population in confined spaces, such as supermarkets, pharmacies or public transport.

“Based on these specifications, we are in a position to say that the masks produced and that will be sold will have the protection conditions required. We are talking about a third type of protective equipment that, with support from the national industry, we can use easily and that when these are sold, written instructions for use will be provided.” said Rui Ivo.

Among the materials authorised by the standard are cotton, polyester or a combination of the two, and many of the masks can be reused after washing.

The Health Minister said, at the press conference on Monday, that the use of non-surgical or social masks will be widespread involving those operating in confined spaces such as pharmacies, but only when the country returns to normality and not in the current state of emergency and confinement.