Cheshire East Council is advising residents on new government rules and local requirements around wearing face coverings to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Coronavirus can spread predominantly by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. Wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of droplets, helping to protect others.
The council are asking residents to wear face coverings in council premises where services are provided to the public, for example libraries, as well as adhering to social distancing measures.
From Friday 24 July, it is mandatory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets, entry can be refused without them. This is in addition to wearing face coverings on public transport.
There are some exceptions on wearing face coverings for young children under the age of 11, people with breathing difficulties, such as asthma, and people with disabilities.
It’s important to remember that a face covering and face mask are two very different things. Face masks can include surgical masks, protective masks (protecting against such things as aerosols in DIY) and PPE masks for healthcare workers.
Some protective masks, with a valve or vent (N95), discharge unfiltered air from the wearer. These do not protect other people around them, so must not be used.
Members of the public are not required to wear face masks but they must wear face coverings. A face covering is something which safely covers your mouth and nose.
You can use a reusable or single-use face covering. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth coverings – but these must securely fit round the side of your face.
How to wear a face covering
A face covering should:
● Cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably;
● Fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face;
● Be secured to the head with ties or ear loops;
● Be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable such as cotton;
● Include at least two layers of fabric; and
● Unless disposable, it should be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged.
For a full list of exemptions to wearing a face covering visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own
You can make your own face covering. Find out how by visiting: www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering
Dr Matt Tyrer, acting director of public health at Cheshire East Council, said: “It’s important to follow government guidance on wearing face coverings to protect one another and to stop the spread of Covid-19 across Cheshire East.
“Before putting a face covering on you need to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser. Avoid touching the part of the covering that covers your mouth and nose, do not move it and wear it on your neck or forehead and change it if it becomes damp.
“Your hands should be washed thoroughly before removing the face covering, only handle the straps, ties or clips, do not share it with someone else to use and wash your hands again once the covering is removed.
“Wearing a face covering will not protect the wearer but will provide some protection to others the wearer comes into contact with. It does not replace the need to social distance – this must still be adhered to as well as regular hand hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes.
“By working together to follow official advice we can help to support the NHS and protect the health and livelihoods of everyone in our communities.”
Single-use face coverings must be disposed of in a waste bin. Do not put them in your recycling bin, as this would put council waste staff at risk when the items need to be separated.
As face coverings are not classed as PPE there are no formal standards or certification requirements for them. However, Cheshire East Council’s trading standards team warns against purchasing unsuitable ones from door-to-door salespeople or online.
Residents are advised to be cautious and do not purchase non-genuine products that have not been tested, with false claims of protection for the users. Always purchase from a reputable store. For help purchasing online, visit the Which? website at: www.which.co.uk/reviews/face-masks/article/face-masks-where-to-buy-them-and-how-to-make-your-own
The council has recently published its local outbreak prevention, management and support plan. This details what steps are being taken to prevent community outbreaks of Covid-19 within Cheshire East, how it would be investigated, managed and contained if an outbreak occurred.
The plan, detailing how the council is working with its health partners, can be viewed on the council’s website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/council_information/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19.aspx
Residents are being asked to play their part by self-isolating if they develop any coronavirus symptoms and booking a Covid-19 test through the NHS test and trace system.
More information about the NHS test and trace service can be found via the council’s website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/council_information/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19.aspx
Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.
The council website can be translated into 80-plus languages, so residents who are not confident speakers of English, or whose native language is not English, can still access vital information about test and trace.
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