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

Face masks are now required in many situations, but the rules vary somewhat across the UK. Full guidance for each nation can be found at the following links.




Northern Ireland.

Last updated: 6th January 2021.