When should you wear a face covering? Everything you need to know about face coverings in shops and supermarkets as they become compulsory on Friday

On Friday, July 24, wearing a face covering will become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England – here’s everything you need to know.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 10:15 am

Under the new rules, people will need to have their nose and mouth covered or face a fine of up to £100.

This comes after rules requiring people to wear face coverings on public transport became mandatory last month.

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A man wearing a face covering and gloves as precautions against the transmission of the novel coronavirus. Face masks will be compulsory in shops and supermarkets in England from Friday, July 24 the government said. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Here's what you need to know about the new rules...

Has there been confusion over the new rules?

The rules are if you’re in a shop, you have to wear a face covering.

But opposition MPs have called for clarity on what constitutes as a ‘shop’ and whether face coverings should be mandatory in takeaways and sandwich shops in England.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed face coverings will be needed in shops such as Pret if people intend to take their food and coffee away.

If they sit down to eat or drink, they will be able to remove their face covering in that area.

It is likely takeaway outlets will fall under the same criteria.

What are the benefits to wearing them?

Experts say the risk of coronavirus transmission appears to be higher in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and wearing face coverings in small shops or enclosed shopping centres could help reduce the spread.

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said: "Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem but the evidence is accumulating that they have a part to play in reducing transmission and also in protecting the wearer."

In addition, there is also increased evidence which suggests that many people with the virus who do not have symptoms can still be contagious.

What do people need to know about wearing masks?

Ideally, the face coverings should be made of multilayer high-quality cotton.

Where possible they should be worn in indoor confined spaces and crowded spaces, especially where social distancing cannot be maintained.

When wearing a face covering, it should cover the mouth and nose with no gaps.

Are some face coverings better than others?

The WHO advises a three-layer face covering in the community - the outer layer should be water-resistant, the inner should be water absorbent and the mid-layer acts as a filter.

It emphasises that a face covering alone cannot protect people from Covid-19, and must be combined with social distancing of at least a metre and regular hand washing.

The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items, as long as they cover the mouth and nose.

But scientists at the Leverhulme Centre, who studied different types of face coverings used by members of the public, say some coverings are not as effective as others, with loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, shown to be the least effective.

Prof Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre, said: "Attention must also be placed on how well it fits on the face; it should loop around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage."

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