It is now mandatory that face masks and coverings are worn by people in most public spaces across England. As more public spaces including supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and post offices are reopening after lockdown, NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would like to urge local people to remain alert and to follow all the government guidelines. Wearing a face mask or covering lowers the risk of transmitting COVID-19 – protecting staff and fellow shoppers.
In addition, patients must also now wear a mask or covering if they attend a face-to-face appointment at their GP or local hospital.
Reducing the number of COVID-19 cases will also help to protect those on the NHS frontline from being overwhelmed. According to health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, the death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.
As with the existing rules for public transport – if an individual refuses to wear a face covering in a shop, they will be refused entry and the police will have powers to issue a fine of up to £100.
Dr Peter Gregory, local GP and chair at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “As life begins to get back to some sort of normality, we must all remain vigilant and follow the government’s rules. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 – a persistent cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell – you and everyone in your household or support bubble should self-isolate; you should call 119 to arrange a test; and you should cooperate with NHS Test and Trace to contain the spread.
“Even if you don’t show any of the symptoms, you could still be carrying coronavirus, so face coverings are a good way to protect others when you are out and about.”
Dr Gregory added: “Even though face masks and coverings are now mandatory, those with certain disabilities and children under the age of 11 will be exempt. Whether you wear one or not, we urge you to continue to stay alert, wash your hands frequently and stay two metres apart from others whenever possible.”
Who are exempt?
The government has said the following people are exempt from wearing a face mask or covering:
- A child under the age of 11
- Someone with an impairment that could be affected by putting on a face mask
- Someone travelling with another person who requires lip reading
- Someone with a severe disability which means they are unable to put a mask on or it causes a lot of distress.
- You may also remove your face covering for a short period if you need to take medication, eat or drink.
You can take off your mask if:
- You need to eat, drink, or take medication
- A police officer or other official asks you to or if shop staff need to verify your age
- You are entering a shop to avoid harm, if you do not have a mask on you
- Children under three should not wear face masks as they are potentially dangerous and can cause choking and suffocation.
It is important to know the correct way to wear a mask, it I therefore important to remember that:
- Your mask or covering must cover both your mouth and nose
- Do not wear a damp or damaged mask
- Do not wear it around the chin
- Do not wear loose-fitting masks
- Do not pull away from your face to speak
- Do not touch the front of your mask
- Do not share your mask
For more information, please visit: www.gov.uk/coronavirus