Coronavirus (COVID-19) - advice, information and help

Use of face coverings

A face covering is something that covers the nose and the mouth. Anything that fits securely around the nose and mouth can be used as a face covering, for example, a bandana, scarf or a face mask.

In England, people over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings (a list of examples for each is included in brackets):

  • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
  • NHS settings (GP surgeries, hospitals)
  • transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
  • auction houses
  • premises providing professional, legal or financial services (post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)
  • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
  • premises providing veterinary services
  • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • places of worship
  • funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
  • community centres, youth centres and social clubs
  • exhibition halls and conference centres
  • public areas in hotels and hostels
  • storage and distribution facilities

You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.

You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed here where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

When you do not need to wear a face covering

In settings where face coverings are required, there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering.

This includes (but is not limited to):

  • children under the age of 11
  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • employees of indoor settings (or people acting on their behalf, such as someone leading part of a prayer service) or transport workers - although employers may consider their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines
  • police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
  • where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip-reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others - including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity

For more information visit the face covering section of the GOV.UK website.

If you are concerned about guidelines not being followed, you can also report a business in breach of COVID-19 regulations.