Face coverings are mainly intended to protect others and not the wearer. The risk of COVID infection at work must be managed by following the right controls, including:
– social distancing or, where that is not possible, reducing the number of people in the work area
– high standards of hand hygiene
– increasing surface washing
– assigning and keeping people to shift teams
– using screens and barriers to separate people from each other
These are the best ways of managing risk in the workplace. If your workers choose to wear face coverings you should support them. There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering is required as a precautionary measure. Face coverings are not classed as personal protective equipment (PPE) as they:
– are generally not manufactured to a recognised standard and not CE marked
– do not provide a proven level of protection for work risks such as dust and spray
What a face covering is
Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene are the most important and effective things we can all do to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions. There is evidence that face coverings have some additional value, especially in crowded and less well ventilated spaces, and where 2m distancing is not possible. In indoor places and where physical distancing is difficult and where there is a risk of contact within 2m with people who are not members of your household, you are expected to wear a face covering.
People must by law wear a face covering in shops, on public transport and public transport premises such as railway and bus stations and airports, and in certain other indoor public places.
There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors from wearing a face covering unless in a crowded situation.
A face covering can be a covering of any type, except a face shield, that covers the mouth and nose. It is recommended that it be made of cloth or other textiles and should be two, and preferably three layers thick, and through which you can breathe. Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. Transparent face coverings which assist communication for those who rely on lip reading and facial expressions can also be worn.
Face shields may be used, but only if they are worn in addition to a face covering underneath, as the evidence shows that they do not provide adequate protection.
If you are unable to wear a face covering, a face visor or face shield can be worn as it does provide a limited level of protection.
Every time you apply or remove a covering, it is important that you wash or sanitise your hands first and avoid touching your face. When temporarily storing a face covering, such as in a pocket when moving between spaces, it should be placed in a washable bag or container and you should avoid placing it on surfaces, due to the possibility of contamination. If your face covering is reusable, after each use you should wash the face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or in boiling water. If your face covering is not reusable, you should dispose of it safely in the general waste bin. Disposable face coverings and gloves cannot be recycled.
Don’t create litter. Littering is a criminal offence and you can receive a fixed penalty of up to £80. Please respect our communities, wildlife and countryside and put disposable face coverings or gloves in the litter bin, or take them home to dispose of safely.
If you have coronavirus or live with someone who does, you need to take extra precautions before throwing away disposable face coverings. Double bag your general waste (including face covering or gloves), store the waste safely for 72 hours, then throw it in the bin.
Mandatory face coverings
Certain indoor public places
A face covering must be worn by all people in the settings listed below, except where an exemption applies (as defined in the legislation), or where there is a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to wear a face covering:
– any premises which open to members of the public and used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services, such as shops, takeaway restaurants, estate agents, beauty parlours. This does not – include hospitality premises such as bars and pubs or certain hospitality premises with table service such as cafes and restaurants
– aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural site
– banks, building societies and credit unions
– community centres
– crematoriums and funeral directors premises
– libraries and public reading rooms
– museums and galleries
– places of worship
– post offices
– storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop off points
– bingo halls
– bowling alleys
– amusement arcades and other leisure facilities (such as snooker and pool halls)
– indoor funfairs
There are certain indoor public places where a face covering is mandatory in one space and not another, for example in a museum which also has a café. A face covering is mandatory when moving through and around the museum, however it is not mandatory in the café, because of the practical difficulties when people are eating and drinking.
We advise the use of a face coverings in public and customer toilets as they are often crowded and less ventilated spaces.
A face covering must be worn by all passengers and staff or operators in the following settings:
– train services including the Glasgow subway
– bus services and the Edinburgh tram
– taxi and private hire vehicles
– bus stations, railway stations (including open air stations) and airports
– ferry services (unless the ferry is open to the elements and physical distancing can be achieved, or the vessel is large enough that physical distancing can be achieved) airline services
Face covering exemptions
Some people are not required to wear a face covering. These include:
– Babies, toddler and children under 5 years of age, due to the possibility of overheating, suffocation and strangulation and they are safe without one.
– police constables or emergency response workers such as paramedics acting in the course of their duty
– owners, managers, members of staff, or volunteers, of indoor premises where it is mandatory to wear a face covering who are physically separated, by means of, for example, partition screens,
from passengers or customers or if they maintain a 2 metre distance from customers or members of the public
– In a place of worship, or at a funeral, marriage ceremony or civil partnership, by a person leading an act of worship, service, ceremony or registration where there is a partition screen or
a distance of 2 metres is maintained
You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if, for example:
– you have a health condition or you are disabled, including hidden disabilities, for example, autism, dementia or a learning disability, or are providing care for someone with a health
condition or disability, and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety to the wearer or the person in the care of the
wearer, or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently
– Individual discretion should be applied in considering the use of face coverings for other children including, for example, children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who
would struggle to wear a face covering
– to seek medical assistance
– to avoid injury, illness or escape the risk of harm
– you need to eat or drink
– you are taking medication
– you are communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate a relevant person, such as a police officer, asks you to remove your face covering
Surgical face masks
Surgical face masks are designed to be normally worn in medical settings to limit the spread of infection. Wearing them should be very limited outside of healthcare activities because they are not generally considered to be PPE in non-healthcare situations.
Unlike face coverings, they:
– are manufactured to a recognised standard
– are resistant to droplets of fluids and splashes