[UPDATED, July 16]
It's been slightly more than three weeks since Phase 2 commenced and malls are looking less deserted as people leave their homes to dine out.
While we are all grateful that we can finally meet our friends for a meal during this period, it is still mandatory for us to wear masks when out.
So the next question is: where do we keep our masks when we eat or drink?
There may be people who think it's fine to pull their mask under their chin for a quick snack or a sip of water, or even hang their mask from one ear because it's too troublesome to take the whole thing off.
However, these are examples of how not to wear a mask.
When we go out, we may have picked up germs from touching dirty objects such as door handles, tables or chairs. We then subconsciously touch areas on our face after, including our chin.
Once we pull the mask under our chin, it is possible for germs to transfer to the mask and subsequently to our face when we put the mask back on. This increases our chances of getting infected with the virus when out in public.
Here's what we can do with our masks instead while eating:
Place it on a clean piece of tissue on the table
According to Dr Ling Moi Lin, the director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology at Singapore General Hospital, you can place the used mask on a clean piece of tissue paper on the table. Ensure that the exterior of the mask is facing down, with the straps placed away from the interior.
After eating, you should clean your hands before putting on your mask as the external surface is likely to be contaminated with germs.
Store it in a clean bag, storage case or pouch
You can bring along a resealable bag to store your mask, if you prefer to keep your mask in your bag instead of placing it on the table.
Paper bags are also a good option to let the mask dry, in case there is remaining moisture on it. This prevents growth of any mould or fungus on the mask.
However, the best practice is not to reuse the mask before it is properly cleaned. Instead, one advice is to always carry a spare, clean mask with you and change it after eating.
For those who are more eco-conscious, you can also bring your own case or pouch to store your mask.
You can easily purchase one on e-commerce sites such as Lazada and Shopee, or even turn to Carousell, where prices for mask storage items range from $1 to $15.
Even food delivery platform Deliveroo has rolled out a collection of mask cases, with designs by local illustrator Tan Si Qi.
Jeannie Pang, owner of local brand Tracyeinny, said that her mask pouches are hand-sewn in Hong Kong and they are equipped with a waterproof outer layer, which keeps them dry.
She also noted that "compared with storing masks in ziplock bags, a mask pouch is more sustainable and environment-friendly".
All things considered however, the most important thing to remember is to clean your hands before and after you remove your mask, as well as before putting it back on.
Storing your masks properly while eating is just one other step to keeping yourself safe while out and about. And remember to wash your mask, and cases, when you get back home.
This article was updated with additional information.