Wearing face masks and keeping safe during COVID-19
In England, you must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings (a list of examples for each is included in the brackets):
- public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
- taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)
- transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
- shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
- shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
- auction houses
- premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions)
- post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
- estate and lettings agents
- premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
- premises providing veterinary services
- visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
- libraries and public reading rooms
- places of worship
- funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
- community centres, youth centres and social clubs
- exhibition halls and conference centres
- public areas in hotels and hostels
- storage and distribution facilities
You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it. You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed here where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. Face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are also advised to be worn in care homes.
The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance on the use of face coverings for schools and other education institutions that teach people in years 7 and above in England.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO WEAR A MASK
Coronavirus spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can be picked up from surfaces and then could infect you if you do not wash your hands and touch your face. Wearing a face mask or covering correctly can reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets. Wearing a mask in conjunction with social-distancing and regular hand hygiene can help combat COVID-19.
HOW TO WEAR A FACE COVERING
- Cover your nose and mouth
- Fits comfortably but securely against the side of the face
- Be secured to head with ties of ear loops
- Ideally include at least two layers of fabric
- Unless disposable should we washed with laundry regularly
WHEN WEARING AND REMOVING FACE COVERING
- Wash hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser before and removing covering
- Avoid touching part of face covering in contact with your mouth and nose
- Change face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
- Only handle straps, ties or clips
- Do not give it to someone else to use
- If single use, dispose of immediately
If reusable, wash it at highest temperature possible.
When you do not need to wear a face covering
In settings where face coverings are required in England, there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others ‒ including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity
- police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering:
- if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
- if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, for assessing health recommendations (for example by a pharmacist), or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
- if required in order to receive treatment or services, for example when getting a facial
- in order to take medication
- if you are delivering a sermon or prayer in a place or worship
- if you are the persons getting married in a relevant place
- if you are aged 11 to 18 attending a faith school and having lessons in a place of worship as part of your core curriculum
- if you are undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact your ability to do so
- if you are an elite sports person, professional dancer or referee acting in the course of your employment
- when seated to eat or drink in a hospitality premise such as a pub, bar, restaurant or cafe. You must put a face covering back on once you finish eating or drinking
The government’s guidance for keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services clearly advises that designated indoor seating areas for customers to eat or drink should at this time only be open for table service, where possible, alongside additional infection control measures.
Exemption cards: You can be exempt from wearing a face covering for age, health or disability reasons. No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering. However, should you want to show something that says you do not have to wear a face covering, exemption cards and badge templates are available on the Government website. These are available via this link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/903452/Exemption_from_face_covering_badge_for_mobile_phone.pdf
This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.
Remember to be kind: Although some disabilities are visible, others may not be. Remember to be kind. It is also difficult for those with hearing problems to understand people when wearing face masks as they rely heavily on lip-reading, facial expressions and non-verbal communication. Try and speak clearly or remove your mask at a safe distance to help those that rely on lip-reading, who may be completely deaf. If you can, purchase a clear face mask that complies with NHS regulations on face coverings. Please see the following tips:
Tips for communicating with deaf children, young people and adults when face masks and coverings are being worn in public places:
- Keep it clear: if you choose to wear a mask, try and wear a mask with a clear panel if you can
- Find a quiet place: This makes it easier to hear, especially if technology is used to support hearing
- Use an app: There are mobile apps that can translate speech into text
- Write it down: If speech isn’t working, write it down or use a text message
- Be patient: Be flexible, creative and most of all patient in how you communicate with deaf children and adults
Making your own face covering
If you want to make your own face covering, instructions are widely available online. We do not endorse any particular method but be considerate of materials and fabrics that may irritate different skin types.
Emerging evidence suggests that the risk of transmission may be reduced by using thicker fabrics or multiple layers. However, the face covering should still be breathable.
Children should make face coverings under the supervision of an adult and face coverings for children should be secured to the head using ear loops only.
If you would like more information on how to make a face covering with materials from around your home please visit the Big Community Sew website. Here you will find step-by-step video tutorials on how to make face coverings and other useful tips and advice.
KEEP UPDATE ON ADVICE HERE: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-…