Government advice on face masks and face coverings has moved considerably throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest advice is:
– To wear face coverings in enclosed (i.e. indoor) public spaces where the 2m social distancing isn’t possible
– From 15 June you must wear a face covering on public transport
– From 15 June, all hospital visitors and outpatients must wear face coverings and all staff must wear surgical masks in all areas at all times

These specific rules are for England. Wales has not recommended the use of face coverings for the general public, and Scotland/Northern Ireland advice is similar (but without the mandatory requirements). The government advice above differentiates between a face mask and a face covering. Face masks are medical or surgical masks, whereas face coverings can be as simple as a bandana. The Air Queen masks that we sell are surgical-grade, and comply with the ‘N95’ filtration requirements for high-specification masks and respirators.

There is little evidence that face coverings protect the wearer. Instead the protect others that the wearer might come into contact with. Face masks on the other hand, such as the Air Queen masks, do provide some protection for the wearer.

Wearing a face covering or mask does not eliminate the need for social distancing (currently set at 2m apart). Finally, face coverings are not for use by children under the age of 2 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly.

On 5 June the World Health Organization updated its guidance of the use of facemasks. The WHO is now advising governments to encourage healthy citizens to wear masks in certain situations. They are also advising all healthcare workers to wear medical masks even when not treating Covid-19 patients (this is mirrored in the updated Government advice). And, in areas with COVID-19 spread, all people aged 60 years or over and anyone with an underlying health condition should wear a medical mask when physical distancing is not possible. This last piece goes further than the government has so far indicated, but we might expect this to be part of a ‘local lockdown’ strategy in due course.