Face Coverings: Your Questions Answered

19th June 2020 |

In the last few days, the use of face coverings on public transport has been compulsory for many passengers. Since the 15 June, this change has worried some passengers, including those with breathing issues, autism spectrum conditions, and learning difficulties. For some people, the thought of wearing a face mask is frightening, and enough to put people off catching buses, and taking trains or trams.

If you read the papers, watch the news or visit social media sites like Facebook, a face mask is seen as the usual form of face covering. It doesn’t have to be this way; if you are worried at buying one, you could use an old t-shirt or a football scarf instead of a mask. If you would like to have a mask, it doesn’t have to be a plain white one. Many shops and internet sites offer face coverings in different colours. You could be adventurous and have your own pattern or photograph (as seen above).

What if you don't want to wear a face covering? Many people can be fined for not wearing a face covering on the bus, tram or train. Some people do not have to wear a face covering their mouth. If you are confused, this post will answer your questions on this subject.

I would like to wear a face covering but not a face mask. How?

A face covering can be made from a scarf, a sock or an old t-shirt. If you are using an old sock, a sock with thicker material is more effective than a thinner one, and longer socks are better than ankle socks. You may need to add another material on the inside of your sock mask.

An old t-shirt may be a better idea as the material is thicker. Especially one that you cannot see through. A Small or Extra Small t-shirt should do.

Some people don’t have to wear face coverings. Who doesn’t?

If you have a disability or a health condition, you might not need to wear a face covering. For example, if you have an autism spectrum condition, wearing a face covering could be stressful due to the material touching your face. If you are travelling with a friend or family member who relies on lip reading, you too do not need to wear a face covering.

Some people might ask me why I am not wearing a mask if I don’t need to wear one. How can you help me here?

You can print off a special card which tells you why you don’t need to wear a face covering. Go to keepsafe.org.uk/posters, where you will find six different cards to choose from. From the Hidden Disabilities website, you can also buy a Face Covering Exempt card.

What if I need to take medication or need to eat or drink?

You can take your face covering off to take your medication, and eat or drink. Please note that you wouldn’t be able to eat on buses, underground trains, trams, and some trains. If you are worried about this, go to the operator’s website or ask at a staffed railway station. Try to have your meal or snack before or after using public transport.

I cannot use public transport and take taxis. Do I still need to wear a face covering?

Yes you can, but it is not compulsory. It is up to the taxi driver whether he or she says you need to wear a face covering. When you book a taxi, ask for a minibus or a black cab. This means you can do social distancing by sitting on the back seat. In a black cab, the driver has a screen.

How often should I wear my face covering?

If you have a disposable face mask, only once before you put your mask in a waste bin. With a face covering that you can use again and again, get it washed after use. This means it will be clean for the next day.

On public transport, how long should I wear my face covering?

For the whole of the journey. Put your face covering on before you leave, then take it off when you get off the bus, train or tram.

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