Coronavirus: What could you use as a face covering?

The Scottish Government advice on wearing face coverings in public explained.

Advice: Scottish Government recommends people wear face coverings in shops or on public transport.
Advice: Scottish Government recommends people wear face coverings in shops or on public transport.

The First Minister has revealed Scottish Government guidance recommending people wear a face covering if they are “in an enclosed space where social distancing is difficult”.

The latest advice – which is not mandatory and importantly not a substitute for physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene – was shared by Nicola Sturgeon at Tuesday’s press briefing.

“We are recommending that you do wear a cloth face covering if you are in an enclosed space with others where social distancing is difficult,” Sturgeon explained.

But what exactly does the Government’s guidance say?

What qualifies as a ‘face covering’

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In its official advice, the Scottish Government has clarified it does not mean a medical mask but something that will cover your mouth and nose. A scarf has been used as an example.

The guidance states: “By face coverings we do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf.”

Where to wear a covering

An enclosed space, where social distancing is particularly difficult.

This amounts to situations such as when you’re travelling on public transport or when you’re doing the food shop and it’s not always possible to maintain a two-metre distance from someone else.

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However, the Scottish Government has said there is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors – unless in an unavoidable crowded situation.

Putting on and washing the covering

The First Minister established quite clearly that a covering is not a substitute for good hygiene.

“What I don’t want is people thinking they are invincible to this virus because they are wearing a face covering,” Sturgeon said.

So we know it’s not a substitute but the Government has also stressed that hygiene needs to be maintained when you are putting one on.

The guidance adds: “When applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face.

“After each use, you must wash the face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of safely.”

Not for children under two

The final advice covers a safety issue. Face coverings should not be used for children under the age of two, the Government has said.

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