Everything You Need to Know about Face Masks

From 24 July face masks will become mandatory in shops and supermarkets across England to help protect those around you as we battle to defeat coronavirus.

The government has already made the wearing of face coverings compulsory on all public transport in England, a ruling which has been in place since 15 June, and now retail outlets are following suit.

If you are not wearing a face mask in supermarkets and shops, you will be breaking the law and could receive a fine of up to £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days).

If you haven’t already got a face mask, now is the time to get one.  They can be purchased online or made at home, alternatively, you can simply use a bandana or scarf that fits securely around the side of your face.

Why should I wear a mask?

The type of face coverings that you should wear in shops are not classed as personal protective equipment (PPE) but are intended to protect the people around you against the transmission of coronavirus.  It’s important the wearer’s mask covers both their mouth and nose, as the virus is spread largely through droplets from sneezes, coughs and talking.

The latest scientific evidence is that a correctly worn face mask may help to reduce the transmission of the virus and help to protect others from contracting the infection.

How do I wear my mask?

A face mask should be worn so that it covers your mouth and nose yet allows you to breathe comfortably.  An ideal material for a reusable face covering is cotton which is soft and breathable. Your face mask should be made from at least two layers of fabric.

If your face mask is of the single-use variety, it should be disposed of in your household waste and NOT recycled.  Fabric face masks can be laundered at the highest temperature for the fabric and can then be reused.

Once you have removed your face covering, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly or use a hand sanitiser to reduce the spread of infection as much as possible.

Are there any exemptions for wearing a mask?

There are certain groups of people who are exempt from wearing face coverings, which include children under 11 years old, anyone who cannot put on, wear and remove a mask because of a physical or mental illness or disability, or if you are assisting someone who relies on lip reading as a communication method.  A full list of exemptions is available on the government website.

Can I make my own face mask?

Yes – making your own face mask is easy and some methods do not require any sewing. We’ve found this no-sew face covering that can be made from a large handkerchief or bandana and two elastic bands.

If you have a sewing machine, then you can make your own face masks and even get involved with the Big Community Sew who are asking the nation’s seamstresses to get involved to ensure everyone in the community has access to a face covering. The website is packed with different face mask ideas and even provides patterns for adults and children sized masks.

Stay safe, yet stylish

Who could have predicted that the biggest Summer 2020 fashion statement would be a face covering? While a face mask needs to be functional, there is no reason they can’t be fun as well.

Many retailers are offering stylish coverings that can be mixed and matched to suit your mood or your outfit. One of Kate Middleton’s favourite brands, Boden, are selling a pack of three face masks, each with a mix of their trademark bright prints and vibrant colours.

Celebrity Lisa Snowdon recently sang the praises of this Wolford face covering on ITV’s This Morning. It is designed for comfort with adjustable nose bands and thin elastic and has Wolford’s logo embossed into the fabric for a subtle, yet stylish look.

Choose a face mask that gives back to charities

If you want to purchase a face covering that supports good causes, look no further than the Great British Designer Face Coverings, which feature stylish designs from six renowned British designers including RAEBURN, RIXO, Halpern, Julien Macdonald, Mulberry and Liam Hodges.

A pack of two reusable, sustainable face coverings costs £30 with all the profits going to good causes such as the Wings of Hope Children’s Charity, NHS Charities Together and BFC Foundation Fashion Fund.

Casetify has adopted a different approach with their ‘Buy A Mask, Donate A Mask’ scheme. For every face mask sold, the company is donating a surgical mask to health workers.  They have already donated 35,000 face masks to Direct Relief.

Face coverings for kids

Currently, the law states that children under the age of eleven are exempt from wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets, but if your child chooses to wear one, then Vistaprint are offering a multi-use ‘Happy Kids’ face masks, which has replaceable filters to add an extra layer.

These cute masks feature a smile emoji and Vistaprint are also donating a percentage of the profits to support communities impacted by the pandemic.

Remember to support social distancing too

It’s important to remember that simply wearing a face covering in shops isn’t going to stop the spread of the virus. The mask is thought to reduce the chance of passing coronavirus to others if you have it or if you are a carrier of the virus who is not displaying symptoms.

Shoppers should still adhere to social distancing guidelines when in retail outlets or supermarkets, with regular handwashing and the use of hand sanitisers encouraged to help to reduce the risk of infection to yourself and those around you.