Throughout the pandemic, the rules and advice provided by the government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for face masks has changed and developed as more research and evidence has come to light. The most recent announcement sees face-coverings becoming compulsory in shops and supermarkets from July 24th, which means that now everyone will require a face mask and the knowledge on how to use them properly. Through this blog, we at Salonwear hope to provide you with all the key information you need to know.
The Evolving Rules Around Face Coverings
From mid-May the government suggested that face-coverings should be used in situations where social distancing cannot always be maintained. This was then followed on the 15th of June with new rules stipulating that it is now compulsory to wear a face-covering whilst using public transport and whilst in hospital. As declared this week, the new rules, effective from the 24th of July, means it will be compulsory throughout England to wear face-coverings when shopping. These new covid-19 rules will be enforced by police and if you are caught shopping without a face mask, then you could face a fine of £100 (or £50 if paid within 14 days).
Interestingly, it has not bee made compulsory to wear a face-covering to pubs or restaurants, as this is not seen as practical, due to the fact that you will need to repeatedly remove the face covering in order to eat or drink.
The Rest of the UK
These rules, do also differ outside of England. In Scotland, it is already compulsory to wear a face-covering in shops. In Wales, they do not yet have any rules in place regarding face coverings, however, they are increasing the use of face masks by requiring them to be work on public transport from 27th of July. In Northern Ireland, face-coverings were made compulsory on public transport on the 10th of July but there are no current plans to enforce the use of them when shopping.
Why Is the Government Forcing Us to Wear Face Masks?
The government has enforced face coverings in shops for two main reasons. Firstly, throughout the pandemic, the death rate amongst those working in retail had been considerably higher than the general public. Therefore, by making face-coverings compulsory, retail staff can be better protected. Secondly, it is believed that the enforcement of face masks will give more people the confidence to go out shopping again, particularly those who are part of the most vulnerable groups or who are amongst the most anxious about coronavirus.
The Changing Advice on Face Coverings
The new advice given in relation to face-coverings might cause some confusion as initially the WHO had recommended that only those caring for someone with COVID-19 or those with coronavirus symptoms themselves should wear a face mask. The reason behind this was there were worries that wearing a face mask could cause a lax in essential measures such as social distancing and hand washing and thus contribute, rather than prevent, to the spreading of the virus. However, as more industries are re-opening, resulting in social distancing measures not always being able to be maintained, this advice has changed and evolved.
Although evidence is still limited surrounding the effectiveness of masks, experts do believe that masks can act as a barrier, capturing droplets as they exit our airways. Face masks are therefore a way of protecting those around you in case you are an asymptomatic carrier, especially in confined environments such as shops and public transport.
Wearing a mask will not, however, completely protect you from catching corona so you should still maintain social distancing where possible along with high levels of hygiene.
Who is Exempt from Wearing Face Masks?
Within these new rules, there are groups of people that are not required to wear a face-covering. They are as follows:
- Kids under 11 years of age
- Those with underlying health conditions, especially those who will struggle to breathe with a mask on
- Staff within retail are not required to wear a mask
Face Masks: What About the Over 60s?
The over 60s are still required to wear a surgical mask, which is a more-effective face mask than standard face coverings. A surgical mask is a mask that has been tested and conforms to certain safety regulations and therefore catches more droplets than standard masks. It is recommended that the over 60s continue using these types of masks, along with anyone who is of higher-risk.
How Do I Accurately Wear and Use a Face Covering?
The most important thing to remember is to avoid touching the face mask when using it, to always store it in a plastic bag when it is not in use, and to wash your hands before and after you apply the mask.
Reusable face coverings should be washed at 60 degrees between every use and disposable masks should be disposed of immediately after use.
It is important that you fit your face mask or covering properly to your face. Read more here on How to Effectively Wear a Face Covering.
If you do not follow all of these rules, then your face mask will not be effective.
Face Coverings We Recommend
The supplying of PPE is something that we at Salonwear have done for a long time, years before Coronvirus through our sister brand, Uniforms for Healthcare. Through this brand, we are an official supplier to the NHS and so we definitely know what we are talking about. Below, are some of the face-coverings we would recommend for use in public spaces such as shops and public transport.
Washable Face Covering
These double-layered face coverings are perfect for everyday use, providing protection and premium comfort. They have two ear loop choices providing a secure fit and have a Silvadur 930 Flex Antimicrobial finish, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria. As they come in a pack of five, you will have plenty of spare ones for times when some are in the wash.
100% Organic Cotton Reusable Face Mask
These organic cotton reusable face coverings are the perfect face-coverings for those who are eco-conscious, as they're 100% sustainable. They are also anti-bacterial, anti-static, and organic, meaning you can stay safe whilst being sustainable and comfortable. These particular masks conform to the AFNOR SPEC S76-001 guideline, which is the highest non-medical European safety standard available. They come in a pack of 4 and can be reused up to 15 times. Simply wash at 60 degrees or above and then store in a reusable plastic bag or somewhere the mask cannot become contaminated.
Children's Reusable Face Mask
Although it is not a requirement for children under the age of 11 to wear a face mask, if they are able to do so safely it is something you should consider. These reusable face coverings for children have an elasticated bridge nose and earloops to provide a secure fit. The pleated chin that anchors the mask makes them ideal for children because they reduce the need for any readjustment when they are in use.
Disposable Surgical Masks
For those over 60, it has been advised by WHO that a medical mask should be worn. For this our pack of 10 surgical masks would be ideal. They are latex-free and constructed from a lightweight material making them breathable. They are also certified to EN14683, which means they've been tested to meet standards relating to filtration, breathing resistance, and splash resistance.
Blog by Becky Jackson for Salonwear