Wearing a face covering supports a Covid-secure city

The government has made it mandatory to wear a face covering in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres and transport hubs – such as train stations, bus terminals and airports - from Friday 24 July.

Anyone failing to comply with this could face being fined up to £100 by the police.

There is already a requirement to wear a face covering on public transport and in NHS settings.

Bus and train operators can refuse service or ask someone to wear a face covering. Shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage customers to comply with the law and can refuse entry.

It will also be compulsory to wear a face covering in banks, building societies and post offices and when buying food and drink to take away from cafes and shops,

Wearing a face covering will not be mandatory in other venues that have measures in place to protect staff and the public from COVID-19. These include: 

  • Eat-in restaurants and pubs
  • Hairdressers and other treatment salons
  • Gyms and leisure centres
  • Cinemas, concert halls and theatres

More government guidance 

Reducing the spread of the disease

Face masks don’t prevent Covid-19 but they are an important tool in reducing the spread of the disease while allowing us to go about our daily lives more safely. Compared to the consequences of catching coronavirus, wearing a face covering seems a small price to pay for safeguarding ourselves and others.

Safe use of face coverings is vital. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting the face covering on, taking it off and after its use and storage.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.

Clean any surfaces the face covering has also come into contact with.

You should wash the face covering after each use; it can go in your usual laundry, using your normal detergent.

Good hygiene and social distancing

Public Health England strongly advise that face coverings should be worn in enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where we come into contact with people we don’t normally meet but they do not replace good hand washing, good hygiene and physical distancing. 

It is still important to keep two metres apart where possible.

If you have symptoms of Covid, you (and all members of your household whether they have symptoms or not) must self-isolate promptly. Follow the stay at home guidance, and get tested as soon as possible if you are eligible.

Not everyone is able to wear a face covering

I hope everyone in Brighton & Hove who can wear a face covering will do so but there are some members of our communities who are exempt from wearing them and we should respect this and avoid making people uncomfortable.

Abuse and unkindness are not what we want to see in our city. This measure is about supporting each other to stay safe. 

Please be mindful and respectful of people’s individual circumstances and remember that some people are less able to wear face coverings.

Exemptions to wearing a face covering

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:

  • young children under the age of 11
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:

  • If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
  • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

Face coverings for staff

It is not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings. For example, there will be times when screens or visors are in use, or when a staff member is not in close proximity to people they don’t normally meet.

Employers should continue to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines to reduce the proximity and duration of contact between employees.

Environmental impact of single use masks

During the pandemic, the upsurge in the use of face masks, has led to an alarming rise in them being discarded on the streets, parks, and beaches, instead of being put in a bin. 

This not only poses a risk in terms of spreading the infection but contributes hugely to single use waste as well as damaging our environment and wildlife.

If you’re using single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, please dispose of it responsibly. You should only put disposable PPE into a non-recyclable waste bin. 

Guidance is that you must double bag PPE waste and set aside for at least 72 hours before adding to external bins.

Public Health England (PHE) has guidance on cleaning and disposing of waste that could be infected with Covid-19.

Using reusable face coverings

I would encourage people to wear reusable face coverings where possible. They are sold widely and – even with basic sewing skills - are relatively easy and cheap to make.

Information, with step-by-step video tutorials on how to make a face covering with materials from around your home can be found on the Big Community Sew website.

Please help keep our city Covid-secure and wear a face covering if you can.

Alistair Hill
Director of Public Health at Brighton & Hove City Council

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