Can a full-head helmet with the visor closed prevent getting infected by the Corona virus during a casual interaction with a carrier?

For example, when buying something at a store or discussing something with someone for 10-15 minutes.

How does it compare with the protection provided by a standard face mask (that can be purchased at a pharmacy)?


I think it's a great idea. It protects your eyes from respiratory droplets and keeps you from touching your face. I don't know how well it would work from keeping droplet from reaching your mouth, but probably pretty well, especially if you used it with an N95 respirator. It might be a little shocking/intimidating to people, so I would only use it in extremely infected areas.

  • Thanks! I actually tried it. I ride a motorcycle anyway, so I just kept it on as I handled my business. So far I'm not infected (not that it proves anything). I did get a few weird looks and one pharmacist (!!) actually laughed at me when I kept the helmet on inside the (crowded!) pharmacy. But I was never one to care too much about public scorn. Or SE scorn, for that matter :)
    – obe
    Mar 24 '20 at 17:39
  • 2
    Just say in a very deep voice "I find your lack of faith disturbing". Mar 24 '20 at 20:27
  • It helps to have a Darth Vader voice modulator as well. Mar 24 '20 at 21:46
  • I disagree with the “probably pretty well” portion of this answer. A motorcycle helmet is not sealed around the head, and the air you inhale while wearing one is not filtered at all. The protection you’d get is comparable to wearing a plastic face shield — full-face splash protection from large respiratory droplets and face touching but nothing for inhalation. This is superior to a basic surgical mask (because it prevents self-touching and ocular infection) but not at all comparable to an N95 respirator for inhaled droplets, which is very important when near someone infected with COVID-19.
    – goodside
    Apr 11 '20 at 1:15
  • (Though it seems plausible that using a properly fit-checked N95 respirator and a motorcycle helmet concurrently would work, so long as the helmet padding does not disturb the fit of the inner mask. This would be an issue if the helmet padding makes contact with the chin — I believe they normally do, but I’ve never worn one.)
    – goodside
    Apr 11 '20 at 1:24

It's better to use some guidelines from reputable sources rather than coming up with your own.

The WHO does not recommend masks for healthy people in most circumstances, only when directly dealing with someone infected, and in that case accompanied by careful hand washing.

Their advice for the general public as of this posting (and this is good advice year-round anyways, not only when particular pathogens are present, because influenza and viruses that cause the common cold are always present) is to wash your hands, keep a distance from people who are sneezing/coughing, avoid touching your face, and cough or sneeze into a tissue or corner of the elbow rather than into the open or your hands.

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    Thank for the references and information. I will read more about it. But this doesn't really answer my question...
    – obe
    Feb 28 '20 at 21:51
  • @obe The only way to answer your question directly would be to design a study involving a coronavirus and motorcycle helmets. No one is going to do that. Can viruses travel through solid plastic? No, but that isn't necessarily relevant. Feb 28 '20 at 21:58
  • @obe Here is a link to what the CDC says about it: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirator-use-faq.html
    – Sedumjoy
    Feb 29 '20 at 4:21
  • @Sedumjoy thanks, I'll read.
    – obe
    Feb 29 '20 at 12:04
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    @obe Coronavirus is not new, just this particular strain. And yes, studies have been done with tools considered part of PPE for infectious disease. They do not typically do studies of infectious disease prevention for tools considered PPE for cycling. Feb 29 '20 at 18:00

Now to address the whole debate about using respirators and masks. You absolutely want them. There has been a narrative throughout the western world that you don't need them, and they don't work. This is not the case. The CDC and WHO tell ordinary people to not wear respirators, but both organizations have political agendas and have frankly done a terrible job handling this public health crises. The truth is that there is a lack of respirators to go around when every single person should be wearing them. In Taiwan, their number one way to combat COVID19 is by having every single person in their population wear masks. Thus far, Tiawan has been one of the best countries in handling the COVID19 health crises.

Now to address why N95/N99/N100/NIOSH respirators work. One of the leading pathways for transmitting this disease is through inhalation of respiratory droplets from other infected individuals. An immediate barrier that has been proven to be effective is having a mask/respirator to intercept these droplets before they reach your mucus membranes. The coronavirus is between 60 to 140 nm in diameter. Let's use the N95 mask for example. This mask captures all particulates at 300 nm at a rate of up to 95% or better. 300 nm is the particulate size that has the lowest capture efficiency. Anything smaller, including the coronavirus, will have an even higher capture efficiency. This virus is one of the most contagious pathogens we have had in recent human history. Any form of personal protection equipment is absolutely vital in keeping yourself from becoming infected. I would also recommend that when you are in a public areas you should wear eye protection, gloves and over coat that you leave outside your house. I do really think the motorcycle helmet is a very creative and potentially effective way to keep yourself protected.

  • Tiawan has been one of the best countries in handling the COVID19 health crises Would you please correct the typo? Thanks. (I already upvote it)
    – Nobody
    Apr 11 '20 at 5:56

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