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 a face covering becomes wet or soiled when you are using it, it should be replaced immediately with a clean one. Re-usable face coverings should be washed after use.
If your face covering is reusable, after each use machine wash it on the highest setting suitable for the fabric, preferably 60 degrees centigrade.
Face coverings should only be hand washed if a washing machine is unavailable. For hand washing, lather face coverings for at least 20 seconds using warm to hot water before drying ideally putting in a dryer. Iron face coverings on the cotton or linen setting to kill any remaining germs.
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 .
Face covering exemptions
Some people are not required to wear a face covering.
- 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
- a person leading an act of worship, service, ceremony or registration in a place of worship, or at a funeral, marriage ceremony or civil partnership, 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
- you are exercising