Face coverings and face masks can look similar, but they do have some important differences. To help you, we’ve answered some of the most common questions.
Face coverings are pieces of material which covers your mouth and nose. One of the most popular styles of face covering is the 3ply disposable covering. These are typically a light blue colour with loops that go behind your ears to keep it in place.
You can also get reusable face coverings. These can be used several times, and are made from a stretchy material.
Wearing a face covering is a requirement for using public transport in England. This includes buses, coaches, trains, trams, ferries and aircraft. They are also mandatory in shops, including supermarkets and pharmacies.
In England, children under the age of 3 should not wear face coverings. Children aged from 3 to 10 can wear face coverings, but they are not required to. Some other groups of people are also exempt. You can learn more on the government website.
Face coverings are also required on public transport and in shops in Scotland. Children under 5, and people with health conditions where a face covering would cause difficulty, pain, severe distress or anxiety, are exempt from this requirement.
Wearing a face covering is required on public transport, including private buses and taxis, and in shops and shopping centres in Northern Ireland. Children under 13 years old are exempt from this, as well as anyone who has a “reasonable excuse” not to. You can learn more on Northern Ireland's government website.
Some GPs may ask you to wear a face covering when visiting the surgery.
In Wales, it is now compulsory for everyone aged 11 and older to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces. There is more information about the definition of an indoor public space, and who is exempt from wearing a face covering, on the Welsh government website.
Evidence suggests that wearing a 3 ply or reusable face covering will not prevent you from catching coronavirus from someone you come into close contact with. However, wearing a face covering can reduce the risk of you spreading it to other people. In the first few days of being infected, you may not display symptoms of coronavirus. This is known as being asymptomatic. Some people never get the symptoms, but even if you’re asymptomatic, you can still pass coronavirus onto the people you come into close contact with. Wearing a face covering reduces the risk of this happening.
At Well, we sell 50 packs of 3ply disposable face coverings for £19.99, which works out at less than 40p per covering.
We also sell reusable face coverings for £5.99, which have antibacterial properties that last for 20 washes, working out at less than 30p per use. These reusable coverings are also available in children’s sizes.
1. Wash your hands thoroughly before picking up the face covering/mask.
This means that any germs on your hands aren’t transferred to it.
2. Fit the covering/mask over your mouth and nose, and secure with the loops behind your ears.
Try to refrain from touching the covering/mask whilst you're wearing it.
3. Remove the covering/mask by the ear loops and dispose of it right away.
Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds.
The term face masks usually refers to medical grade masks that people who work in hospitals or social care should be using, but they can also be worn by the public. They’re sometimes known as PPE (personal protective equipment). They’re usually white, and have a more sculpted shape than face coverings.
A face mask is recommended when visiting a hospital or a care setting such as a care home or hospice due to the additional protection they provide.
Face masks offer a greater level of protection than face coverings due to the higher filtration rate and being fluid resistant. Some face masks, like N95, have an additional valve to make them more breathable and may have an adjustable, closer fit.
At Well, we sell N95 face masks for £7.99 each. These are disposable, and must be safely disposed of after one use.
The following people don’t need to wear a face covering/mask:
The governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have different rules on who is exempt from wearing a face covering. Please check your local government website for more information.
Yes. It’s crucial to remember that wearing a face covering is not a substitute for social distancing, and you should continue to keep two metres away from people you don’t live with. You also need to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and avoid touching your face.