Advice around wearing face masks

From 24 July 2020, face coverings become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England, coming into line with Scotland where this is already the case.

Those not complying face fines of up to £100, however certain groups are exempt including children under the age of 11 and people with a disability for whom wearing a face mask would case physical or mental distress.

This follows on from the government announcement that from Monday 15 June 2020, anyone visiting a hospital either as a visitor or as an outpatient needs to wear a face covering. This is because the latest scientific evidence shows that people who are infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms, and can therefore spread the virus without realising.

If you or a member of your family is visiting hospital, you need to wear a face covering. This will help to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus and help keep everyone safe.

Face coverings are different to face masks in that they can be homemade, made of cloth and be reusable. If you don’t have one, hospital staff will provide one for you when you arrive.

Family members can wear a face covering when being visited in the home by a health professional. Children under the age of 3 should NOT wear a mask or face covering.

Health professionals will assess each home visit for coronavirus related risks.

The full guidance on wearing face coverings and masks can be found here.

You can also find more information about staying safe outside of your home here.

It is not recommended that children and babies under the age of 3 wear masks or any face covering. This is due to the immediate and significant risks they can cause an infant or young child.

The risks of suffocation and strangulation are high because:

  • Babies and toddler’s windpipes are smaller and softer than those of adults and older children, so they could be strangled by a mask getting stuck around their neck. This would happen quickly and quietly
  • A mask could restrict an infant or young child’s breathing and could cause suffocation

For these reasons it is NOT advised that babies or children under the age of 3 wear face coverings or masks at any time.

Public Health England recommend that the best way to reduce the risk of infection is by maintaining 2 metre social distance with people from outside your household and washing hands more often for 20 seconds.

The government are consistently reviewing the advice that is given, so keep up-to-date via GOV.UK

Useful links

Page last reviewed: 17-07-2020

Next review due: 17-07-2023