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Covid-19. Government Guidance on Face Coverings

This week, face covering becomes compulsory in some places.

Definition – A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth

You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face. Face coverings are not classified as PPE (personal protective equipment) which is used in a limited number of settings to protect wearers against hazards and risks, such as surgical masks or respirators used in medical and industrial settings.

A face covering should:
* cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably
* fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
* be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
* be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
* ideally include at least two layers of fabric (the World Health Organisation recommends three depending on the fabric used)
* unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face

The reason for wearing them

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread predominantly by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then touch your face without washing your hands first.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.
They are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.

How to wear one

When wearing a face covering you should:
* wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
* avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
* avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
* change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it

When removing a face covering
* wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
* only handle the straps, ties or clips
* do not share with someone else to use
* if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
* if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
* wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed

When to wear one

In England, you must by law wear a face covering in the following settings:

Public Transport
Shops and Supermarkets as of 24 July 2020

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.


You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:
* young children under the age of 11
* not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
* if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
* if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
* to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
* to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
* to eat or drink, but only if you need to
* to take medication
* if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
* If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age
* identification
* If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

Full Guidance available here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own) from the government website