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Face coverings do not replace social distancing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at press conference on Friday (31 July 2020) that face masks must be worn in indoor venues like cinemas, galleries and places of worship from Saturday, 8 August.

He added that the requirement to wear a face covering will be extended to other indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with others they do not normally meet. This will include museums, cinemas, galleries and places of worship.

Face coverings are already mandatory in shops and on public transport. Anyone who fails to adhere to the new rules will face a £100 fine.

If you can, you should also wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.

A face covering is not the same as surgical masks or respirators that are used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment.

Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with. Government guidance said that face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 3 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly.

Although most people are wearing a face covering when they are required to, some are not covering their nose. Dr Naomi Forrester-Soto, reader in Vector Biology at Keele University, said:

“A mask is only good if it covers both the nose and mouth. A virus can still be expelled from the nasal passages when breathing, singing, shouting or during any exercise.

“If the mask only covers the mouth it is not doing its job and you may as well not be wearing it.”

In these cases the wearers may not understand the purpose of the face covering, they find that their glasses fog up, or maybe they just don’t like feeling like everything has been covered

“Whatever the reason, this [not covering the nostrils] reduces the effectiveness of wearing a mask and increases the likelihood of community transmission.”


It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.

Click here to find out how you can make face-coverings at home.

The key thing is it should cover the mouth and nose.