Why is it important to wear a face covering?
With the recent rise of Coronavirus cases in the UK and around the world it is important to that we all play a role in helping to stop the spread of the virus (COVID-19) and follow the government guidance, which includes wearing a face covering/mask.
The reason for using face coverings is mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer from COVID-19. It is important to note that face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing. Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. If used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of these droplets in certain circumstances.
If you or anyone at your household are experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms (new contagious cough, high temperature or/and loss or change in smell or taste) wearing a face covering does not change the rules on isolation, you and your household must isolate at home and arrange to be tested for COVID-19.
When to wear a face covering?
You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of the following settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.
- Travelling by public transport (unless they have an exemption or a reasonable excuse). People can be refused travel if they do not follow the rules, and can be fined.
- Transport hubs (airports, coach stations, railway stations etc.)
- Premises providing personal care and beauty treatments
- Shops, supermarkets and shopping centres around the UK
- Banks, building societies and post offices
- Places of worship
- Museums, galleries, exhibition halls, conference centres, community centres, social clubs and entertainment venues
- Libraries and public reading rooms
- Storage and distribution facilities
- Public areas in hotels and hostels
- Funeral service providers
- NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. Also advised to be worn in care homes.
You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed above where social distancing may be difficult and where you would come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
There are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering:
(Remember some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others, please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances.)
- 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
- 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
- if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- children under the age of 11
(More information on wearing face covering and exemptions can be found on government website, please see links below)
Disposing/Maintaining of face coverings
- Wash your hands or use sanitiser gel before and after removing the face covering by handling straps, ties or clips only. (DO NOT GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE TO USE)
Disposal of single use face coverings:
- Dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
- Wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric. Wash your face covering regularly following the washing instructions for the fabric.
- DO NOT REUSE IT IF DAMAGED!
- Once removed, store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until you have opportunity to wash them
Information and advice on face masks and face coverings for people with breathing difficulties
Wearing a face covering if you have asthma
According to Asthma UK, most of the people suffering with asthma, even severe cases, can manage to wear a mask for a short time and should not be worried in case they need to wear one. Wearing a face covering does not reduce a person’s oxygen supply or cause a build-up of carbon dioxide. However, in cases you find it impossible to wear one due to health reasons e.g. breathlessness; you don’t have to wear one.
More information about The Face Covering Exception Card (and a link for downloading the card) can be found on Asthma UK and England government’s websites please see link below. Please only use an exemption card if you really can’t wear a face covering because it makes it difficult to breathe, or causes panic or distress.
Anxiety and Mental Health
We all want to help and play our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to government guidelines. We all react to changes in different ways, whilst some are able to adapt to changes easily, some of us might find it overwhelming and confusing. Some might find covering face hard to or even impossible to cope with. Here are some suggestions and practical tips on how to cope by Mind UK that could be helpful.
If wearing mask makes you feel anxious, panicky or like it’s harder to breathe:
- Get some fresh air (before and after you wear your mask)
- Do something to relax you before and after you wear your mask (e.g. breathing exercises)
- Try a face covering that hangs down your neck (‘neck gaiter’) instead of one fitting around your jaw
- Keep your body as cool as possible (e.g. wear loose-fitting clothing, sitting by an open window on a bus)
- Add a comforting scent to your face covering (this might be a few drops of lavender oil, your own perfume or aftershave, or a smell that reminds you of someone else)
- Reduce the time you spend having to wear your mask. For example, by planning your shopping in advance to help you keep browsing time down in shops.
If seeing other people in masks make you feel uneasy or afraid:
- Shift your focus away from someone’s face when communicating with them (try switching the way your body is facing so that you’re side-by-side with the person you’re talking)
- Try to pay extra attention to your non-human surroundings e.g. trees, traffic, sounds/smells you notice.
- Take a distraction (try listening to music or call someone you enjoy chatting to)
- If someone you have to see often (like a friend or housemate) wears a mask that you find very scary, you could try gently letting them know how you feel. They might be able to change it or cover it up in your presence, to help you.
Remember to be kind and supportive to others!
GOV.UK| Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own 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
BBC News| Coronavirus: What are the rules for face masks or face coverings? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51205344
Asthma UK| Should I wear a face mask or face covering? https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/what-should-people-with-asthma-do-now/should-i-wear-a-face-mask-or-face-covering/
European Lung Foundation| WEARING A MASK OR FACE COVERING IF YOU HAVE A LUNG CONDITION https://www.europeanlung.org/en/covid-19/covid-19-information-and-resources/wearing-a-mask-or-face-covering-if-you-have-a-lung-condition
Mind| Mask anxiety, face coverings and mental health https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/mask-anxiety-face-coverings-and-mental-health/