What is the UK government's advice on wearing face masks?

11 May 2020, 15:37 | Updated: 11 May 2020, 15:54

The UK government has given advice on wearing face masks outside
The UK government has given advice on wearing face masks outside. Picture: Getty Images

Do I have to wear a face mask on public transport and in crowded places? Here's what Boris Johnson has advised in his new coronavirus lockdown document.

The UK government has now published a 50-page document detailing ways in which the UK can try to limit coronavirus in the future.

And under the new advice, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the public should be wearing home made face masks when they are getting on public transport.

But when should we wear face masks and will it be law enforced? Here’s what the UK government has said about wearing face masks:

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Should we be wearing face masks outside in the UK?

As more people return to work, the UK government has said masks should be used when on public transport or in shops.

Under the new government advice, a form of facial covering, such as a homemade cloth covering, should be worn “in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible”.

The document says: “If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

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“A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers; these supplies should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.

“Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of two or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary school age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.”

Brits have been advised to wear homemade face masks outside
Brits have been advised to wear homemade face masks outside. Picture: Getty Images

This is aimed at preventing people who have the virus - with no symptoms - from passing it on to others.

England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, stressed that face coverings were “not a substitute” for physical distancing.

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He also urged the public not to buy surgical or medical masks needed for frontline carers, but to rely on scarves or homemade masks instead.

The public should also wash their clothes regularly, the advice suggests, “as there is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics”.

Will I be fined for not wearing a face mask?

Downing Street has confirmed the use of face masks will not be enforced in law.

The PM's spokesman told reporters: "It is advice, so we are publishing that today and it is for the public to judge whether or not this is something they want to follow.

"It is not something that is part of the regulations, i.e. you won't be fined for not wearing a face mask."

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