Rules on face coverings and mask vary around the UK.
In England, for example, face masks were no longer mandatory from Thursday, January 27, whereas in Wales they are still recommended in some settings.
In Scotland, it is mandatory to wear masks in most indoor settings and in Northern Ireland, face masks must be worn in hospitality settings unless you are eating or drinking.
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We looked at what the rules for face coverings and masks are in Wales in comparison to the rest of the UK.
What are the rules for face coverings and masks in Wales?
In Wales, you do not have to wear face coverings in places where food and drink is served, such as pubs, cafes and restaurants.
You do not have to wear face coverings in wedding, civil partnership or alternative wedding ceremonies, but some wedding or hospitality venues might ask you to wear a face covering.
Despite it being not a legal requirement to wear face coverings and masks in these settings, the Welsh Government strongly advises both employees and customers to wear a face covering indoors.
You are still legally required to wear a face covering in most indoor public places and the guidance applies for anyone aged 11 or over. You must wear face coverings on public transport and most public spaces, such as shops.
Guidance for schools and other educational settings regarding the use of face coverings has changed temporarily. Secondary school pupils are being asked to wear masks in class until the end of half term.
What are the rules for face coverings and masks in England?
From last week, rules for face coverings and masks have changed in England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that face coverings was not a legal requirement, except for healthcare settings such as GP surgeries, hospitals or care homes.
From Thursday, January 27 face masks are no longer required in secondary school classrooms or any other communal areas in school settings. And the UK Government “recommended” that people wear masks in enclosed or private spaces, but this was up to people’s personal judgment.
Masks will remain mandatory on Transport for London (TfL) services however, including the Tube. Most retail giants such as Teso, Sainsburys, Lidl, Waitrose and John Lewis have also asked staff and customers to keep wearing face coverings or masks.
What are the rules for face coverings and masks in Scotland?
In Scotland, face-covering and mask must be worn in most indoor places, such as shops, bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs, as well as churches and other places of worship. They must be worn on public transport, including stations and bus stops, and at work (including tradespeople working in people’s homes).
People are also advised to wear a face-covering outdoors in crowded places, and especially in places where people gather, for example, outdoor markets and large events. The Scottish Government also suggests that people may want to wear a face-covering in the street if it is “very busy”.
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, also confirmed that secondary school pupils will continue to have to wear face masks in classrooms as is the same rule in Wales.
There are exemptions to this rule for some people and situations, however, and this includes if you’re under 12 years old, you’ve got an illness or disability which means you can not wear one, or wearing one would cause you severe distress.
There are also some situations when you can temporarily remove your face covering, for example when exercising or when sitting at a table in a restaurant, cafe or bar or when you are eating or drinking.
What are the rules for face coverings and masks in Northern Ireland?
The use of face coverings is required in all indoor settings accessible to the public across Northern Ireland. This includes shops, shopping centers, public, private and school transport services, taxis, airplanes, public transport stations and airports, banks, cinemas, and some government offices.
Post-primary pupils and staff must wear face coverings inside school buildings. However, people in Northern Ireland no longer have to prove they are exempt from wearing face coverings.
You do not have to wear a face-covering in a public indoor place if you are under the age of 13, a member of staff or employee of the shop, shopping center or bank and are behind a partition, if you are in an area not open to the public and can maintain a two-meter social distance from your colleagues, or if you have a reasonable excuse not to
How do face coverings and masks work and how effective are they?
Evidence suggests that wearing a mask reduced transmissions of Covid-19.
According to a number of laboratory tests and studies, the main value of wearing face masks is that they block up to 80% of respiratory droplets from when you cough or sneeze from escaping into the air. They may also prevent about 50% of droplets from being inhaled too.
The main purpose of wearing masks however is to protect others from potential viruses that you might have.
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