The study from IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, is titled: ‘Experimental and Numerical Evaluations of Masks and their Ability to Safely Reduce Social Distancing’.
The objective of the study was to document the propagation distance of droplets from speaking and coughing while using face coverings. It found that theme parks could reduce social distancing requirements from six feet to three feet.
“Social distancing as an community-involved infection mitigation measure that has been put into use during arises of high contagion in the past, however the guideline of six feet for it was not actually put into effect until quite recently,” the study says.
“In the 2009 flu pandemic, for instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended an ‘arm’s length’ as the guideline for social distancing. The human average arm length is 25 inches, or 2.08 feet, which is notably much less than six feet.”
Social distancing could be lowered to three feet
Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends six feet for social distancing, which has become the baseline measurement across the US.
However, the maximum detectable distance of droplets is 2.22 feet while wearing a cloth face mask, according to the experimental study. It found that social distancing of three feet with face coverings is more effective than six feet without a face mask.
“The human research study of particulate propagation distance from the human respiratory events highlight, with confidence, that three feet of physical distancing with face coverings provides less risk than six feet of physical distancing without masks,” the report concludes.