Should You Be Wearing a Face Covering at Work or When Travelling There?

Should You Be Wearing a Face Covering at Work or When Travelling There?

16th July 2020

The recent changes in the rules over when to wear a face mask has caused a degree of confusion. While these laws are subject to change, the following details are correct at the time of writing.

Travelling to Work on Public Transport and In Shops

You need to wear a face covering if you are travelling on public transport in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Wales will bring in this rule on the 27th of July.

When it comes to entering shops, things are a bit different. This law is already in place in Scotland, but it won’t be effective in England until the 24th of July. Shop workers don’t need to wear them, though it is recommended, as the rules are just for customers.

It is worth pointing out that these don’t need to be special surgical masks, as you can make them at home if you prefer. Fines for not wearing a face covering go up to £100.

Wearing a Mask at Work

Most of the confusion appears to be related to whether or not a mask needs to be worn at work. Part of this confusion comes down to conflicting newspaper reports about supposed new rules to be put in place.

Since face masks are generally considered most useful in small, enclosed spaces, people also tend to think that they are probably needed at work, especially in offices. Yet, health secretary Matt Hancock has recently pointed out that face coverings are not obligatory in workplaces in England.

Government minister Michael Gove has called for people to use common sense and “basic good manners” in deciding when to use a mask. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to favour a stricter approach and clearer rules to staying safe in smaller spaces.

What About Other Types of Workplace?

Clear visors are recommended for people who are in close contact with the public. These include those who work in places like beauty salons, tattoo parlours and hairdressers. What isn’t clear is whether the customer still needs to wear a face mask in this situation.

In the case of construction sites, there is still no specific advice on the use of face masks. Certainly, the nature of these sites suggests that it should be easier for workers to maintain a safe distance from one another and to use physical barriers as a separating element too.

However, it is worth noting that in the US the Department of Labor has advised that the use of face masks on construction sites is recommended. They point out that this is especially important in those cases where social distancing isn’t possible.

It is also suggested that extra face coverings are made available on site, in case they are needed. Of course, construction workers have the added challenge of adding this new measure to traditional safety issues such as the use of appropriate clothing and safety ladders.

It is a good idea to keep an eye on the changing rules and advice on this subject. For the moment, the use of face masks can still be seen as one of the best ways of protecting yourself and those around you from infection.