UPDATE: Face coverings will be mandatory in additional enclosed public spaces from Friday 24 July – including shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs. They must also be worn in banks, building societies and post offices.
At the time of writing the advice on wearing face masks or face coverings is confusing. There are different rules for the 4 different countries of the United Kingdom and various organisations within them have different approaches to children’s face coverings. The government is due to set out rules later this week but in the meantime it is advisable to check individual organisation guidelines before visiting or booking anything, and always have spare masks to hand in case they are required.
Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you from catching COVID-19. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with. Face coverings do not replace social distancing.
Face masks can be obtained in several varieties from medical grade to simple cotton fabric pulled up over the face. Thumbsie® fabric face masks are made of a double layer of fabric, are reusable and have a pocket to insert a filter or disposable layer (such as a tissue), they are not medical grade.
Let’s have a look at some examples of where and when fabric face masks or other varieties of children’s face coverings should be worn, particularly as people set off on their summer holidays or days out:
- Transport – In England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you must wear a face covering at all times on public transport (bus, train, ferry and plane). However there are some exceptions e.g. children under 11 in England and under 5 in Scotland, don’t have to wear face masks on public transport (BBC website). Uber has also made face coverings essential, but not all taxis require them.
- Shops – In Scotland you must wear a face mask in shops too and in Wales you must wear them inside where social distancing is not possible.
- Theme Parks – At Thorpe Park, children’s face coverings are mandatory, but at Drayton Manor Park, Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures they are only compulsory in some areas. Legoland advises the use, but doesn’t make it compulsory. It’s worth checking before you set out.
- Cinemas – do not currently make wearing face coverings or masks compulsory
- Abroad – Face coverings are compulsory in public in Catalonia, Spain, the Balearic Islands (although some beaches are exempt) and Lombardy in Italy. It is likely that the Costa Del Sol, Spain will follow suit.
Italy, France, Greece, Spain and 16 German states have made wearing face masks compulsory on public transport and there are fines for those who don’t comply. In the same countries, face coverings are also mandatory in shops (in France shops have individual choice and most are making masks compulsory).
As you set off on days out or on holiday, it will be worth checking what arrangements individual attractions and venues have made so you are prepared, and keep an eye out for the rules for theatres, museums etc. once they are open too. In addition keep abreast of government guidelines and stay safe – keep spare masks on hand in case you are caught out.
A face mask will not protect anyone from catching COVID-19 and is one of many measures to help slow the spread of infection. Social distancing and regular, thorough hand washing are the most important elements of reducing the risk of catching the disease.