Coronavirus: Who should wear a face mask or face covering?

For the first time, people in England are being advised to wear face coverings in some enclosed spaces.

The Scottish government already recommends people wear them when in shops and on public transport.

What is the new advice?

The government for England says:

  • People should aim to wear face coverings on public transport and in some shops
  • Also in other “enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet”
  • “Social distancing” means staying more than two metres away from someone
  • Face coverings should be worn and not surgical masks or respirators which should be left for healthcare staff and other workers who need them

People do not need to wear face coverings where they are:

  • Outdoors or while exercising
  • In schools
  • In workplaces such as offices and shops
  • Children under two or primary aged children who cannot use them without assistance
  • People who have problems breathing while wearing a face covering

Advice in Wales has not changed and face coverings have not yet been recommended for the general public. People in Northern Ireland have been told to consider wearing face coverings if they are in places where they cannot social distance.

What face masks are used by health workers?

The most protective mask is an FFP3 or, alternatively, an N95 or an FFP2.

NHS staff in lower-risk situations can wear a surgical mask. This includes healthcare workers within one metre of a patient with possible or confirmed Covid-19. These staff may be in hospitals, primary care, ambulance trusts, community care settings and care homes.


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