Government regulation comes into force on Friday 24th July, making it compulsory for shoppers to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets across the UK.
For many individuals this will be seen as a welcomed and necessary step in combating the virus, but for Retailers this adds a new customer vetting process to manage, without discouraging shoppers who have simply forgotten to bring a face covering.
Shops will be expected to encourage compliance and if necessary refuse entry to persons arriving in store without a face covering. Added to this and if necessary, the police have the powers to enforce measures including through issuing fines.
The regulation has led to another spike in demand for face masks.
Face covering types
Below provides an overview of each type of face mask.
- Disposable - Surgical type
- Dust Masks FFP3, FFP2, FFP1, (or Respirators N95)
- Homemade face coverings
Disposable - Surgical Masks
These pull out to fit loosely over the nose, mouth & chin with loops over the ears. They are designed for regular replacement and to protect from germs, splashes, and airborne substances.
Supply of these has caught up and they are readily available.
Disposable Face masks - Pack of 50
Made from polyester, machine washable and fully reusable. This is a good solution as people would only need a couple to use in rotation. Whilst not “certified” they do filter the air as they are manufactured in 3 layers, not merely a cloth face covering.
Being reusable they save waste and provide a sustainable ongoing solution.
Dust Masks FFP3, FFP2, FFP1, (or Respirators N95)
These are primarily for use in construction. The mask clings closely around nose and mouth, often fitted with a valve to allow breathing out, they filter the air as you breathe in and will hold out unwanted particles. FFP3 is the most effective filter and they reduce down FFP2, and FFP1.
Being a tight fit they can be uncomfortable to wear but may reduce condensation on glasses!
Homemade Face coverings
The Government's helpful guidance on when to wear one and how to make your own is below.
Would it be better to give out face masks and keep customers?
The debate is open on whether shops will in fact be able to turn away customers who omit to wear a covering - or whether most shops will have them available to purchase for those that forget. It's to be hoped that the culture change will be as simple and straightforward a change as something like seat belts becoming compulsory in the 1980s or travelling on an aeroplane with less than 100ml of water, after 9-11.