Face coverings and face masks

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

What do they look like?

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.

When should I wear a face covering?

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 now mandatory in shops.

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.

Wearing a face covering is required on public transport in Northern Ireland. From Monday 10th August, you will also be required to wear one in shops and shopping centres. Children under 13 years old are exempt from this, as well as anyone who has "a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering". 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, the government does not ask for people to wear face coverings, but, "in some circumstances where it might be difficult to stay 2m away from others, we are advising the use of three-layer, non-medical face coverings".

How do they protect me?

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.

How much do face coverings cost?

At Well, we sell 50 packs of 3ply disposable face coverings for £29.99, which works out at less than 60p per covering. 

We also sell a reusable face covering for £5.99, which has 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.

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How do I wear a face covering/mask safely?

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.

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Face masks

What do they look like?

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.

When should I wear a face mask?

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.

How do they protect me?

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.

How much do face masks cost?

At Well, we sell N95 face masks for £7.99 each. These are disposable, and must be safely disposed of after one use.

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Who doesn’t need to wear a face covering or mask?

The following people don’t need to wear a face covering/mask:

  • Children under 3 years old
  • People with respiratory conditions

In Scotland, children under 5, and in England, children under 11 don't need to wear a face covering on public transport. Find out more on the government website.

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Do I still need to socially distance?

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.