How has the guidance on masks changed for the public and health workers?
In June face coverings became compulsory on public transport for both England and Scotland, and from the 10th July Scotland and Northern Ireland will also make coverings mandatory in more public spaces. However, guidance related to wearing face coverings and masks is being constantly reviewed, leading to regular and rapid changes.
Guidelines released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and new updates from the UK government now advise that face coverings and, in some cases, masks, should be worn in more public and healthcare settings.
Below we explore the most up to date advice from WHO and the UK government* to help more people stay informed and safe when they are away from home.
The new guidelines for anyone over 60 or living with a health condition
On the 5th June the World Health Organisation announced that it advises anyone who is over the age of 60 or living with a health condition to wear a medical grade face mask in areas of widespread transmission and settings where social distancing is not possible. This includes circumstances where they could be less than one metre from other individuals.
All hospital visitors need to wear their own face coverings
From the 15th June all hospital visitors are expected to wear a face covering at all times during their visit. Although hospitals can provide a face mask in an emergency when a visitor is unable to bring their own, everyone is urged by the government to wear their own face covering to prevent the spread of the virus within a clinical setting.
What are the new measures for healthcare staff?
Until the most recent update in June, only health workers who were caring for patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases were advised to wear medical face masks. The UK Government has now confirmed that Type I or Type II surgical masks will be worn by all healthcare workers who are in a clinical setting.
What can everyone do to protect themselves and others in public?
The advice that the public has received concerning hand hygiene measures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic still remains in place, but from 4th July England relaxed the two-metre social distancing rule to one-metre plus, whilst still advising two-metre distancing where possible. Everyone should wash their hands regularly with soap and water, especially before leaving the house and after arriving home. Alcohol based hand sanitiser can provide effective virus protection for the hands when in public and should be used before entering a building or when someone has had contact with surfaces, such as a trolley or basket during food shopping.
It is vital that people avoid touching their face and only touch surfaces they need to. Although, face masks, face coverings and gloves can reduce the spread of the virus they will only be effective when used correctly and with the right hygiene measures.
Finally, as declared by the government, everyone is required to wear face coverings (unless they are exempt) if they are travelling on public transport in England and Scotland. In Wales people are advised to wear face coverings where distancing is not possible, but from the 10th July it will be mandatory for people to wear face coverings in Scotland when they are visiting shops and those living in Northern Ireland will be required to wear face coverings on public transport.
*All information correct at the time of publishing.
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