When can we stop wearing face masks? The different rules across the UK

Credit: Canva

Boris Johnson’s easing of restrictions in England has the public wondering when can we stop wearing face masks?

They’ve become a staple of pandemic life, with the British public adhering to face mask rules in shops, supermarkets, hospitality venues and even face masks in cinemas. All in an effort to reduce the transmission of the virus to prevent us from going back into lockdown.

Face masks were made mandatory again in December, under Plan B measures brought in following the spread of the Omicron variant. However, the government have re-evaluated the situation this January and have shared an update on face covering use that comes into effect soon.

When can we stop wearing face masks?

People in England can stop wearing face masks from Thursday 27 January onwards. The government announced that mandatory masks will be scrapped alongside other restrictions from this date. Face masks will then become an individual choice to wear one or not.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed an end to face masks in his House of Commons address on 19 January:

“Having looked at the data carefully the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse, the Government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks,” he said.

Plan B measures are being removed following the success of the booster programme.

People are no longer advised to work from home and from 27 January:

face coverings will no longer be mandatory indoors
NHS COVID Passes will be voluntary for large events

More info

— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) January 20, 2022

Though no longer mandatory, Boris added that he “suggests” people to continue to wear face coverings. Especially in “enclosed or crowded spaces”. But he was quick to highlight that this was a recommendation and not a rule.

“We will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one,” he said.

Despite the government’s new stance on masks, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has shared that they will remain mandatory on Transport for London (TfL) services. This means that those in the capital using the tube, buses, trains and other public transport must wear a mask.

“If we have learnt anything from this pandemic, it is that we must not get complacent and undo all our hard work and sacrifices,” he said. “That’s why face coverings will remain a condition of carriage on Transport for London services.

.@MayorofLondon welcomes easing of COVID restrictions but calls on Government to keep legislation in place to make face coverings mandatory on public transport, shops and indoor public venues.

Read full statement here:

— Mayor’s Press Office (@LDN_pressoffice) January 19, 2022

“I’m asking everyone in our capital to do the right thing and continue to wear a face covering when travelling on TfL services to keep us all protected and to prevent further restrictions from being necessary later down the line.”

Anyone not wearing a mask on public transport in London could face a £200 fine. Both TfL officers and the police are being deployed to deliver these fines.

Face masks in Wales

At present, those in Wales still have to wear a face covering by law. This is despite rules changing in England.

“Face coverings must be worn in all indoor public places, and public transport, including taxis,” reads a statement on the Welsh government website. “You may remove your face covering in the part of the premises for eating or drinking, but only when you are seated to eat or drink. You must replace your face covering when you are no longer seated.”

Some of Wales’ current covid restrictions will be phased out from 28 January. But a Welsh government spokesperson has confirmed that self-isolation rules, plus “face-covering rules for most public indoor places and the use of the Covid pass” will remain past this date.

Face masks in Scotland

Scotland will continue to wear face masks in most indoor public spaces. This applies to all individuals aged 12 and over (unless exempt for medical reasons).

The Scottish government website have defined indoor public spaces as:

Shops, supermarkets and department stores
Public transport, taxis and hire vehicles
Bars, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs and takeaways
hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo studios
Churches and other places of worship
Gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools and indoor fitness studios
Libraries, museums and galleries
Casinos, amusement arcades, soft play centres, indoor funfairs, among others

Diners in pubs and restaurants will be able to remove their mask when seated and eating. But will have to put them on again when in communal areas.

Face masks must be worn in communal areas of pubs in Scotland. (Credit: Getty)

Face masks in Northern Ireland

Face masks continue to be mandatory on public transport, in shops and hospitality venues in Northern Ireland. However citizens are not required to wear coverings in gyms and other exercise facilities.

“Generally you must wear a face covering indoors in any premises that are accessible to the public,” says the Northern Ireland governement website. “This includes when shopping, in a bank, in a restaurant or cafe unless seated at a table, and in some government buildings. If you are in any doubt, you should wear a face covering.”

Those exempt from mandatory face masks in N Ireland include children aged under 13. And anyone who is unable to for medical reasons.

When can we stop wearing masks in schools?

Schoolchildren in secondary schools across England no longer have to wear masks in classrooms.  The Department of England have additionally confirmed that from Thursday 27 January, face coverings will also not be mandatory in indoor communal areas in education facilities.

Face masks in schools became mandatory again during mid December. When a spike in covid cases due to the spreading of Omicron symptoms led the Prime Minister to introduce Plan B measures.

Pupils won’t need to wear face coverings in classrooms in schools and colleges from today.

This is because the national data shows the prevalence of Covid to be on a downward trajectory.

Face coverings will no longer be needed in indoor communal areas from Thurs 27 January. pic.twitter.com/bUicFdNDwF

— Department for Education (@educationgovuk) January 20, 2022

Face masks in classrooms have since been scrapped. With this rule coming into effect as of 2o January. The Department of Education have since reasoned that this move has come about “because the national data shows the prevalence of Covid to be on a downward trajectory.”

Secondary school students in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will continue to wear face masks in schools. Both in the classroom and communal spaces. With no new changes announced following the news that you can stop wearing face masks in England.

What are the current rules on face masks in England?

Until 27 January 2022, the public are still expected to wear face masks in the following venues:

Public transportation, including aeroplanes
Taxis and private hire vehicles
Public transport hubs, such as train stations
All shops and supermarkets
Indoor shopping centres
Hospitality venues, including bars and pubs, except when seated at the table to eat or drink
Estate agents and letting agents
All entertainment venues, including theatres, cinemas, zoos and concert halls
Personal care premises, including hair salons and tattoo parlours
Libraries and public reading rooms
Places of worship
Premises providing medical or veterinary services
Community centres, youth and social clubs
Funeral service providers, including funeral homes
Conference centres and exhibition halls
Public indoor spaces in hotels and hostels

Essentially, you should wear a face covering in any indoor public space where crowds are expected.

Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?

Children under 11 years old, as this is against advice from both the WHO and Public Health England.
People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering. This is often because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability.
When putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress.
If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on clear sound or facial expressions.
To avoid harm or injury to yourself or others. This includes when it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity.
Police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public

The government have updated this list of exemptions throughout the year as more research and information has come to light.

Should I continue to wear a face mask after the rule changes?

Though face masks will cease to be mandatory after 27 January, the government “recommends” they still be worn in enclosed or crowded spaces. This is because mask-wearing is an effective way of preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The face mask or covering works as a barrier between the wearer’s nose and mouth and the space around them. If they have the infection and wear a mask, they can’t expel any droplets of infection from their respiratory system. This means they can’t transmit the virus onto people, surfaces or into the air when breathing or speaking.

Credit: Getty

Extensive research has confirmed that masks do work to prevent the spreading of the virus. With one 2021 study concluding that widespread use can reduce community transmission.

“The available evidence suggests that near-universal adoption of nonmedical masks when out in public, in combination with complementary public health measures, could successfully reduce R number (rate of infection) to below 1, thereby reducing community spread if such measures are sustained,” said the study’s researchers.

The World Health Organisation’s advice on masks also advocates for continued wearing:

“Masks are a key measure to suppress transmission and save lives,” guidance on the website reads. “Depending on the type, masks can be for either protection of healthy persons or to prevent onward transmission.”

Whilst several agencies advocate for mask use to continue, it’s ultimately up to the individual if they want to keep wearing them after the January deadline.

Face masks and face coverings: know the difference

There is a difference between the words ‘face mask’ and ‘face covering’. The latter is the one the government has opted for as a must-have for the general public. This is because it’s effective at preventing the spread of Covid-19 by the wearer.

It’s simply something that covers your mouth and nose. This could be a scarf, a cloth face mask, a handmade face mask, or a piece of cloth.

A face mask is a surgical-grade mask that’s only required for medical staff.

Where to buy a mask online

Many local high-street stores sell masks or face coverings. These include…

Lloyds Pharmacy: Cloth and disposable face masks/coverings available to buy for adults and children, starting at £4.99.
Aldi: Packs of three printed cloth face coverings for £3.49.
Tesco: Pack of 10 disposable facemasks for £5.
Waitrose: Re-usable masks from designers such as Mulberry. £15 for pack of three (available in store only).
Next: Packs of three re-useable masks from a variety of brands from £25.
Halfords: Re-useable face covering, pack of one, for £5.

Face masks are also available to buy online from marketplaces such as Amazon.

Effective masks have at least two layers of fabric. They also completely cover your mouth and nose, have a snug fit against the sides of your face. They also have a nose wire or piece of elastic to prevent hair escaping from the top of the mask.

How to make a face mask

It’s possible to make a face mask using simple fabric and everyday materials. To find out how to make your own face mask at home without the need for any sewing, follow our handy online tutorial.

Throughout the pandemic, many people have decided to make their own face masks. This is so they are customisable for their own style and comfortable for their own needs.

The post When can we stop wearing face masks? The different rules across the UK appeared first on GoodtoKnow.

Add a Comment

Alamat email Anda tidak akan dipublikasikan.