In some parts of the UK, you must now wear a face covering in certain situations. Throughout the UK, it is recommended that you wear one in some other situations.

Face masks are not an alternative to social distancing or other precautions. Even if you are wearing a mask, you should keep at least two metres away from people who are not in your household (or ‘bubble’) whenever possible. You should continue to practise good hand hygiene.

Wearing a face mask offers little or no protection against catching coronavirus. However, if you have got coronavirus but are not yet showing symptoms, they reduce the chances of you passing it on to other people.

Face masks as discussed here are not the medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the NHS. Supplies of PPE are still needed for the NHS and other public services, so do not attempt to buy it for yourself.

You can cover your face with a scarf or a bandana. Suggestions for how to make a cloth face mask are available here

A face mask or other covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. Once you are wearing the mask, keep it over your mouth and nose unless you have a clear need to move it. There is little point in half-wearing a mask so that it does not cover your mouth or nose.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting your mask on and after taking it off. Store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. You should wash a face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.

The rules across the UK

England

You must wear a face covering at all times on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient. You are also advised to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

Scotland

In Scotland, you must wear a face mask when travelling by bus, train, tram or Glasgow Subway. You are also advised to wear one in enclosed spaces when social distancing cannot be observed fully. They are compulsory in shops.

Wales

In Wales, you are advised to wear a face covering in circumstances when social distancing cannot be observed fully. They are recommended for use on public transport, but not compulsory. Three-layer masks, in line with the World Health Organisation’s advice, are recommended.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, you are advised to wear a face covering in circumstances when social distancing cannot be observed fully. They are compulsory on public transport.

Last updated: 10th July, 08:25