Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings

England moved to step four of the roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions on 19 July. The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.

The Mayor of London has asked Transport for London (TfL) to keep the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport as a condition of travel on all TfL services after 19 July. 

Please click here to see the latest guidance. 

Guidance about travelling to work

Wherever possible, businesses should encourage and allow employees to work from home.

If your employees must travel to work, please encourage them to walk or cycle when they can. Transport for London (TfL) has issued guidance around how businesses can support staff to walk or cycle, rather than utilising public transport. If it is essential for them to use public transport, it is mandatory that they should wear a face covering for the entirety of their journey.

Face coverings can help reduce the spread of the virus.  The Mayor has urged that all Londoners are to wear non-medical face coverings where they can’t keep a safe social distance, like on public transport and in some shops and this is now official Government guidance.

Watch Dr Ellie Cannon, a GP in London, explain more here. Face coverings should be reusable and can be made from materials commonly found in the home. They need to have enough fabric to cover from the top of the nose to the bottom of the chin and should be washed regularly. Tips for staff on how to make homemade face coverings can be found here. Face coverings are also available from a number of retailers, including some supermarkets.

Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing or washing hands.

Remember if an employee feels unwell, they must stay home.

TfL has launched a new travel safe plan, for those needing to use public transport to get to work. The Streetspace for London plan is creating more space on streets so people can walk or cycle while social distancing. This will help ease pressure on public transport as the pandemic lockdown is lifted. More information and advice  from TfL on travelling is available here.

The exact timing and implementation of measures and adjustments during phase two will depend on the most up to date assessment of the risk posed by coronavirus. Phase three will come into effect when reliable treatment for COVID-19 is available.

Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings

Guidance around working on site or in specific situations

Your responsibilities as employers

The Government’s Employers Guidance states that employees should continue to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in workplaces where it is already being worn.

Non-medical, cloth face coverings are different from PPE.

PPE are items such as surgical masks and visors used specific workplace environments, like health and care settings. The advice remains that PPE should only be used in settings where there is official guidance that it should be used, like in health and care, and can be counterproductive if used outside of this.  It is important that PPE is reserved only for these workers and are not used by the general public.

For members of the public, face coverings can be made at home and do not need to be professionally made.   Many face coverings are washable and reusable, so require a smaller supply than single-use PPE masks.

Cloth face coverings should cover the bridge of your nose to the bottom of your chin.  Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds) before and after touching or adjusting your face covering.

Every business expecting staff to return to the workplace must complete a COVID-19 risk assessment.  If this risk assessment shows the need for PPE then it should be provided by the employer free of charge.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely where they are needed by telling workers to:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it. Continue to wash hands regularly whilst wearing a face covering.
  • Avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
  • Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.
  • Change and wash your face covering daily.
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste.
  • Practise social distancing wherever possible.

It should be stressed that the use of face coverings and PPE (if required) are not a replacement for other ways of managing risk in a workplace such as limiting time spent in contact with others, using fixed teams and partnering for close up work, social distancing, and increasing hand and surface washing.

TfL have asked that all taxi and private hire companies and drivers put protective measures in place including ensuring face coverings are worn by drivers.

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