Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings

It is recommended that you should use face coverings in particular circumstances - short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. You must wear a face covering on public transport.

Don’t get a false sense of security

Crucially, do not get a false sense of security about the level of protection provided by wearing a face covering.

It is essential that everyone continues to:

  • practise social distancing as much as humanly possible
  • wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day
  • ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ when they sneeze or cough

That’s still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

How to wear and make a face covering

A face covering is a covering of any type which covers your nose and mouth.

You should use a reuseable, cloth face covering if possible to help protect the environment.

There is advice about how to make your own face covering available on the UK Government website.

In line with the advice from the World Health Organisation, when you do wear a face covering it is important that you:

  • do not get a false sense of security about the level of protection they may offer
  • continue to practice social distancing
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it
  • make sure the face covering covers your mouth, nose and chin without any gaps at the side
  • avoid touching the face covering when wearing it
  • take the face covering off by the straps
  • wash the face covering after use, if the material is washable - if it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in the general waste

Face coverings on public transport

Since 10 July 2020, all passengers and staff on public transport must wear a face covering:

  • on bus, coach and train services
  • in public transport stations
  • in indoor areas of a ferry and outdoor areas where you can’t keep two metres social distance

This does not apply to tour coaches and taxis or private hire vehicles but some operators may have their own rules you should follow.

Although face coverings may not prevent you from becoming infected with the virus, they help prevent people who don’t know they have the virus spreading it to others.

By wearing a face covering you are are showing your support and consideration for other passengers and staff and playing your part to prevent transmission of the virus.

You don’t have to wear a face covering:

  • on school transport
  • if you are under the age of 13
  • if you are a member of staff and are behind a protective screen
  • if you are a passenger or a member of staff and have a reasonable excuse

Some circumstances make it difficult for some people to wear face coverings.

In these circumstances people may have a 'reasonable excuse' not to wear a face covering on public transport.

These reasonable excuses include:

  • if you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • if you need to remove it during your journey to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • if you need to eat, drink, or take medication you can remove your face covering
  • if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official

There is no need to get a letter from a doctor or government to show that you do not need to wear a face covering.

If you have a condition which means you cannot wear a face covering you only need to say, if asked, that you cannot wear a face covering because you are exempt.

It is important to that we all respect one another and remember that the reasons for not wearing a face covering may not always be visible.

If you do not wear a face covering and you are not under 13 or have a reasonable excuse for not wearing one, you are committing an offence and could be fined.

When you return home, wash your face covering before you reuse it, if the material is washable.

If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in the general waste.

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