Facial coverings are now mandatory in shops and supermarkets across England.
Under new rules introduced by the government over the weekend, people must cover their nose and mouth or be fined up to £ 100. People with certain disabilities are exempt.
This is after rules that require people in public transport to wear face covers were made mandatory last month. Initially, many experts and authorities, including the World Health Organization, suggested that facial coverings were not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but now recommend that they be brought in.
– When should I wear face masks?
Facial coverings should be worn in shops, supermarkets and closed shopping centers, as well as in train stations, banks, post offices, construction societies, bus stations and airports.
The government has also said that people who get food and drinks from cafes should wear a face mask, but not wear a cover if they are on the property.
Meanwhile, grocery and store workers don’t have to wear masks, with several major retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Asda and Costa Coffee, saying they won’t aggressively check the rules.
Masks do not need to be worn in pubs and restaurants, museums, cinemas, theaters, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, spas and beauty salons, hairdressers, galleries, concert and bingo halls.
Face coverings are also thought to make no difference outdoors, as the risk of transmission is low in the open air.
Failure to follow the rules could lead to a £ 100 fine, although police have said they will not aggressively enforce the law, while ministers hope the public will show “common sense” on the matter.
– Are there any exceptions?
Yes, although face wraps are mandatory from Friday in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England, there are some exceptions.
Chapter three of the government directive, published Thursday, contains a list of “legitimate reasons” for not wearing upholstery. Groups and institutions include:
When talking to people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions, and clear sound to assist in communication.
It is not mandatory for store or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face cover, but employers can ask them to do so where necessary and when there is no other restriction, the guideline states.
People who are exempted from wearing a face cover may choose to wear and display an exemption card, badge, or even a homemade sign, the government says.
– Is there confusion about the new rules?
Yes, opposition MPs have said that it should be clarified whether customers should wear face covers in takeaways and sandwich shops in England.
The criticism came after days of mixed reports in which the health secretary and the official Boris Johnson spokesperson contradicted each other.
The Daily Telegraph reported that people who use sandwich shops and takeaways must wear a mask and that buying food at the counter and then sitting down to eat at the store is prohibited.
Ministers are accused that the new rules are confused, inconsistent and illogical, with face masks not required in pubs, restaurants and cinemas, but mandatory in shops, take-away shops and shopping centers.
Essex University’s David Strain said there was “no logic to exclude theaters and cinemas” because social distance could not be enforced, “There is no reason why retailers or supermarket staff should be exempted.”
Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, told The Times: “While today’s guidance is helpful in a way, the uncertainty of the past few weeks has done nothing to instill public confidence. Meanwhile, if venues such as theaters, museums and salons are not covered by these rules, there must be an absolute guarantee that they can protect the public by taking physical distance or by taking other mitigating measures. ‘
And Jon Richards from the Unison union said, “Government leadership was confusing from the start. The UK came to the table too late with face coverings and now people don’t know what to do.
‘There are rules for shops and public transport, but not for other closed spaces such as libraries, cadastral offices and civic centers. The public needs clarity to end the mess. ‘
– What does science say about facial covers?
A Royal Society report suggests that even simple homemade facial covers can reduce transmission if enough people wear them in public.
The study, based on mathematical modeling, showed that if an entire population were wearing facial covers that were only 75 percent effective, it would increase the R value, the number of people to whom an infected individual transmits the virus, from 4.0 to below 1.0, without the need for lockdowns.
Another Royal Society report suggests that the use of cotton masks is associated with a 54 percent lower risk of infection compared to the non-mask groups when tested in a healthcare setting.
Melinda Mills from Oxford University told a webinar, “So that should suggest that when you’re in the audience in general, it should give you some, not 100 percent, but it does provide some protection.”
Another study of coronavirus deaths in 198 countries found that countries with policies to promote the wearing of masks had lower mortality rates.
In another piece of scientific research, which was published last month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists calculated that wearing facial covers between April 6 and May 9 prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between April 17 and May 9.
– What are the benefits of wearing them?
Experts say that the risk of coronavirus transmission appears to be higher in poorly ventilated indoor areas, and wearing face covering in small shops or closed shopping centers can help reduce the spread.
Keith Neal, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem, but the evidence is piling up that they play a role in reducing transmission and also in protect the wearer. ‘
Moreover, there is also more evidence that many people with the virus who have no symptoms can still be contagious.
– What should people know about wearing masks?
Ideally, the face covers should be made of high-quality multilayer cotton.
Whenever possible, they should be worn in confined indoor spaces and busy areas, especially where social distance cannot be maintained.
Japan follows the three C’s, closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings. When wearing a face cover it should cover the mouth and nose.
– Are some facial covers better than others?
WHO recommends a three-layer facial treatment in the community – the outer layer must be water-resistant, the inner layer must be water-absorbent, and the middle layer serves as a filter.
It emphasizes that a face cover alone cannot protect people from COVID-19 and should be combined with social distance of at least one meter and wash hands regularly.
The government has said that coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas, or other fabrics as long as they cover the mouth and nose.
But scientists at the Leverhulme Center, who studied different types of facial coverings used by members of the public, say some coverings are not as effective as others, with loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, proving to be the least effective. Prof Mills, director of the Leverhulme Center, said: “Attention should also be paid to how well it fits on the face; it should run around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage. ‘
– What are the most important messages about facial covers?
Prof Mills says fabric upholstery is an effective way to protect the wearer and those around him. She says facial masks and covers cannot be seen separately and are part of a package that includes hand hygiene and social distance. Consistent and effective public messaging is essential, she concluded.