The government is now advising the public to wear a face covering in some circumstances, such as enclosed spaces where social distancing may not always possible.
Face coverings do not protect you from contracting coronavirus.
However, if you are infected but haven’t yet developed symptoms, they should help to provide some protection for people you come into contact with in a busy shop or on public transport.
To help people interpret the government’s advice and choose the right face covering for their circumstances, the Public Health team from Hertfordshire County Council has developed guidance.
A face covering is made of cloth or other textiles and covers the nose and mouth.
You should be able to breathe comfortably through a face covering.
You can use a simple scarf or bandana that ties behind your head.
A face covering is not the same as a face mask used within a health and care setting.
It is important that face masks are only used by health and care professionals, to ensure that the supply of these masks for key workers who are at particular risk is not reduced.
Professor Jim McManus, Director of Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, said:
“Remember, face coverings do not replace social distancing, good hand washing and good hygiene. Wearing a face covering is not an alternative to any of these precautions.
“We are urging people not to buy the surgical face masks or respirators worn by front-line workers in health and care settings because these are prioritised for those who are working where the risk is greatest. People who have been advised to use surgical face masks or respirators should continue to do so.”
The safe use of face coverings is crucial.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, taking it off, washing it and storing it.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
Clean any surfaces your face covering has come into contact with. You should wash your face covering after each use.
The government has advised that face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors, while exercising, in schools, in workplaces such as offices and retail.
They are also not recommended for those who may find them difficult to wear.