Mask Wearing

You are currently legally required to wear a face covering, such as a mask when:

  • On public transport or at an indoor transport hub such as an airport or train station.
  • In shops, supermarkets or shopping centres.
  • In banks, building societies or post offices.
  • In places of worship (except when singing).
  • In barbers and hair salons.
  • In most other indoor public spaces.

If you aren’t wearing a face covering, you can face a fine of up to £200.

Face coverings are also needed when attending a hospital or GP surgery, although this is not legally enforced.

When don’t I need to wear a mask?

Face coverings are not required in restaurants/cáfes, pubs and bars, or when doing exercise including dancing.

You are allowed to remove your face mask when singing in places where it can be reasonably expected – for example singing during a church service or as part of a choir. This doesn’t mean you can remove your mask to sing in somewhere like a supermarket.

Children under 11 are not required to wear a mask, as well as anyone with a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, and anyone for whom wearing a mask will cause them severe distress.

Why wear a mask?

Coronavirus is spread when droplets are spread into the air by infected people sneezing, coughing or talking. Wearing a mask helps stop these droplets from going into the air.

As you can be infected but not be showing symptoms, it’s important that everyone wears a mask so that if they are carrying coronavirus it doesn’t spread to other people.

By wearing a mask, you can save other people’s lives.

How to wear a mask

  • Wash your hands before you put it on and after you take it off, using soap or sanitizer gel.
  • Your mask should cover your nose and mouth, going up to the top of your nose and under your chin.
  • Make sure it fits snugly so there’s no gaps between the fabric and your face.
  • Don’t take it off to talk!
  • Avoid touching your face while wearing your mask.
  • Wash your non-disposable mask after use – you can put it in the washing machine with your regular laundry.

The video below is produced by the World Health Organisation and has information on how you should safely wear your mask:

What if I wear glasses?

Masks can be uncomfortable for glasses wearers because they can make your glasses fog up. It is important that you wear your mask anyway!

To avoid your glasses fogging up, make sure there isn’t a gap between the edge of your mask and your face. Wear your glasses on top of your mask, not underneath it.

If you’re still getting steam on your glasses, you can add some tissue to the edge of your mask to fill any gaps.

If you wash your glasses in soapy water before you go out, it’ll give them  a layer of protection against misting up.

A lot of masks for sale have metal strips that can be bent to fit around your nose to prevent gaps that lead to glasses fogging up.

What if I have breathing difficulties?

Those who have a physical or mental ailment or disability that means they cannot wear a face covering, or who would experience severe distress from wearing one, do not have to wear a face covering.

Asthma UK recommends that if you’re not sure if you can wear a mask, you should buy a couple of different kinds and try wearing them at home or going for a walk in them before wearing them to the shops. 

Properly-made masks shouldn’t restrict your oxygen, but they may still feel uncomfortable. If you’re not sure whether you should wear a mask, you can call your doctor to check. You could also try wearing a face visor instead of a mask.

Cards saying you have a disability and do not need to wear a mask are available online, but are not a requirement, and a business cannot force you to show one in order to enter.

If you do want a card, you can click here go to where there are some available for you to print off.

What if I have hearing difficulties?

If you rely on lip reading, facial expressions, and clear sound to communicate, it is legal for someone to remove their mask to talk to you. If someone has removed their mask, remember to keep as much of a distance as you can to stay safe!

If you wear hearing aids, consider getting a mask that loops around your head rather than your ears, so that your hearing aids won’t be knocked.

What if I have dementia?

Wearing a face mask can be hard for a person living with dementia, as they may find it uncomfortable or have problems remembering that they need to wear one. The Alzheimer’s Society offers guidance for if a person with dementia has difficulties wearing a mask:

  • Do they simply forget why it’s needed? Consider a sign up by the door for when you go out. You may need to gently remind the person we’re still in a pandemic.
  • Does the mask fit comfortably? Try different styles or looser fastenings if it’s too tight
  • Are they unhappy with the feel of the fabric? Try some different materials, maybe one made from a familiar garment (check with them first before cutting the fabric).
  • Do they pull the cover down? Try some distraction or positive reinforcement – how wearing a face covering helps to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep people well.
  • Are they anxious it will stop them breathing? Offer reassurance and show them that it won’t.
  • Is there a past experience that might make them fearful about wearing a mask (perhaps as a young child in the war)? Talk to them about it and try to find ways to reassure them.

If these don’t work and wearing a mask would cause the person with dementia severe distress, then they are exempt from the law.

Cards saying you have a disability and do not need to wear a mask are available online, but are not a requirement, and a business cannot force you to show one in order to enter.

If you do want a card, you can click here go to where there are some available for you to print off.

You could also consider getting a sunflower lanyard to show that you have a hidden disability, or click here to order a free helpcard from the Alzheimer’s Society website. These can continue to be used after the pandemic is over whenever extra help is needed.


Last updated 07/01/2022