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Lonnie Sullivan covers his face with a mask while getting a haircut at The Barber Shop, 419 N. Main St. in Broken Arrow on Friday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

As businesses start reopening Friday in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first phase to restart the economy, residents need to take precautions in public against the COVID-19 virus.

These measures include always wearing a mask in public places and keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from others. Washing hands often is more effective than wearing gloves.

The efforts are part of a new etiquette everyone must take to ensure the safety of others.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing at least a cloth mask when in public. It protects people from asymptomatic carriers or those who are sick but not yet showing symptoms.

Face coverings can be fashioned out of any scarf, bandanna or cloth. Cloth masks are no guarantee against community spread but do provide a barrier for virus transmission that could be life-saving.

After wearing, the cloth masks must be washed with soap. Disposable masks must be thrown away in a closed bin followed by washing hands with soap.

Masks work best when used in connection with the federal guidelines of physical distancing.

Staying at least 6 feet from other people prevents the virus from reaching another person. Most stores offer floor markings for illustration.

Some people have been wearing medical gloves, but that may give a false sense of security.

The virus adheres to latex and other synthetic materials. Anything touched with gloves, whether a wallet or store items, can contribute to the viral spread.

Instead, medical and public health officials stress old-fashioned handwashing with soap for at least 20 seconds.

If soap and water are not available, such as in a store, then use hand sanitizer. But health officials say soap is the No. 1 choice.

We all know the new rules, but they are only as good as our willingness to abide by them. It is a matter of personal responsibility to take these steps so that others can remain safe and healthy.

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