Frequently Asked Questions

Why wear face coverings?

Whenever we talk, cough or even just breathe small droplets are released into the air which can contain the virus thus aiding its spread. Face coverings allow individuals to contain these droplets, thus it is being advised for these to be worn when in public spaces. Some individuals can be asymptomatic whilst carrying the virus – therefore it is crucial that everyone wears face coverings in public, even if they are not showing symptoms.

What do face coverings do?

Cloth face coverings help to contain the droplets which are emitted when we talk, laugh, cough or breathe. These droplets can be composed of particles which carry the virus; therefore, it is crucial for us to reduce their spread. Face coverings should have a snug fit to the face in order to maximise the containment of droplets, in turn helping control the spread of the virus.

Are face coverings PPE?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing which protects the user against health risks whilst in the workplace. PPE needs to meet several guidelines and regulations dependant on the industry and safety risk; therefore, cloth face coverings are not considered as PPE. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have advised that people in high-risk jobs, such as healthcare professionals, should be provided with the appropriate PPE in the form of medical-grade face masks etc. As this form of PPE is in short supply the general public are being advised to wear cloth face coverings rather than medical-grade face masks.

Are face coverings effective?

Cloth face coverings are described as a form of ‘source control’ – meaning they create a barrier to reduce the spread of droplets and therefore contain the spread of the virus at the source.

It should be taken into account that face coverings are to be used alongside, and not in replace of, other preventative measures such as social distancing and washing hands regularly. Wearers should avoid touching face coverings whilst being worn, wash hands prior to removing, and ensure that the face covering is washed with soap after each wear/once damp. Following these preventative measures this will help maximise effectiveness of face coverings and in turn reduce the spread of the virus.

What should face coverings be made of?

According to government guidelines cloth face coverings should cover both your mouth and nose whilst allowing you to breathe comfortably. Face coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other breathable cloth fabric. They should have a snug fit to the face in order to reduce the spread of droplets.

Face coverings to wear with glasses?

As a result of the limited airflow whilst wearing a face covering individuals breathe commonly escapes at the top of the mask. This can become problematic for mask wearers, as their warm breath hits the cooler lenses it tends to fog up and restrict their vision.

We have easy quick tips to help you avoid foggy lenses! Firstly, ensure that the mask is fitted snuggly to your face and around the nose – our Bags of Ethics face coverings come with a fine wire and adjustable straps built in to help you achieve the perfect fit to your face. A snug fit will help to reduce the amount of breath which escapes at the top and thus reduce the fog.

Secondly, pulling your mask up higher on your face will allow your glasses to rest on the face covering and prevent the air from escaping.

Face coverings for children?

The government has advised that face coverings should not be used for children under the age of 3 or those who cannot manage them effectively. Our range of kids face coverings are designed for children aged 3-10 years. The fun collection of animal prints will help you adapt your little ones to this new way of life and ensure they feel comfortable when going outdoors.

How do face coverings work?

Research suggests that around 50% of people don’t show any symptoms whilst carrying the virus, these people are asymptomatic. When people go into public spaces droplets, which may consist of the virus, can be spread when we talk, cough or simply breathe. Face coverings help to contain these droplets to reduce the spread of the virus. This is particularly important when in spaces where social distancing is more difficult to maintain such as public transport, or in shops. Face coverings should cover both the mouth and nose whilst allowing the user to breathe, they should also have a snug fit in order to maximise containment of droplets.

How to make face coverings?

As face coverings slowly becoming a mandatory way of life it’s important to ensure you have one ready before going out into public spaces. Face coverings can easily be made at home, here’s how:

Don’t have a sewing machine? Don’t worry!

1. Grab an old t-shirt, best to use a breathable fabric such as cotton.
2. With a pair of sharp (fabric) scissors, cut a strip seven to eight inches in width from
the bottom of your shirt.
3. Fold the fabric in half and cut out a six/seven-inch long and five/six-inch wide
rectangular piece. Make sure to leave at least a quarter of an inch towards the edge of
the fabric.
4. Cut through the edges to make straps.
5. Tie the straps behind your head and neck to ensure a snug fit.

Comfortable with a needle and thread? Here’s another way:

You will need; two pieces of tightly woven cotton fabric cut to 10 inches x six inches, two six-inch long elastic bands (you can use hair bands), (fabric) scissors, pins, and a sewing machine (or needle and thread, if you prefer the old-fashioned way).

1. Align the two fabric pieces together and pin them in place.
2. Fold down the long edges ¼ of an inch, pin in place and place and stitch down.
3. Fold over the short edges ½ of an inch and stitch down.
4. By using a bamboo stick or a bobby pin, thread the elastic band through the created loops on the sides and tie at the end according the size of your face.
5. Pull through and hide the knots behind the hems.

Do I need a mask with a filter?

Filters are being marketed as an ‘extra layer of protection’ to contain particles which may carry the virus. It should be noted there is limited scientific evidence or government advice concerning the effectiveness or requirement of filters.

As filters need to be replaced after each use they are not viewed as the most sustainable option. Ensuring that your face covering has a tight weave will avoid particles slipping through gaps in the cloth and allow you to avoid waste by only using a reusable face covering. Our Bags of Ethics face coverings have 2 layers of cotton fabric to increase containment levels and remove the need for a filter.

Which face coverings are best?

There is a lot of advice surrounding which face covering is best, however, if you are not a medical professional or do not have a respiratory condition, you do not need a mask with a filter or a surgical mask. Surgical masks, whilst very convenient, have several negative impacts. Firstly, they are in short supply across the world due to the global pandemic, and are desperately needed by healthcare workers. By using single-use masks as a member of the general public you are reducing the supply available to healthcare workers. Single-use also have a larger environmental impact. They are made from polypropylene, a derivative of plastic, which takes a long time to decompose. Single-use masks are being discarded carelessly, and are therefore being found washed up on beaches across the world, posing as a danger to the wildlife that inhabits our oceans.

Reusable masks therefore are deemed a better option, both for the people and the planet. They do not use up vital stocks of surgical masks needed by healthcare workers, and do not contain single-use plastic. Reusable masks are found to be just as efficient as surgical masks in preventing the spread of COVID when worn by the general public.

What face coverings are acceptable?

Any form of face covering that covers the nose and mouth is deemed acceptable. The UK government has said that handmade or cloth coverings are indeed sufficient. Your face covering should ideally be made up of multiple layers of material, be breathable, and have adjustable straps in order for it to fit your face snugly and not billow at the sides. This prevents droplets from escaping from the sides of the mask, and a tight weave, ideally double layer fabric will keep them contained inside the mask, reducing the risk of individuals spreading the virus. Face masks should also ideally have a nose strip to allow them to mould to the shape of your face, further creating a tight fitting barrier against escaping droplets. You can make sufficient face coverings yourself at home, or buy reusable, washable masks, such as our Great British Designer Face Coverings, which have been developed with scientists to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Where to wear face coverings in public?

Face coverings should be worn in public places where social distancing measures cannot be enforced. In the UK, it is mandatory to wear face coverings on all forms of public transport – on buses, trains, planes, ferry’s, the underground, and in London, in Uber’s, and it will also become compulsory to wear them in shops from 24th July. Whilst it is compulsory in these places, ideally you should wear them in any place that may be crowded, or where you cannot socially distance by 2 meters. For example, it is not compulsory to wear a mask when in restaurants, cafes or pubs, however if you are queuing in a coffee shop that is quite crowded, you may want to wear a mask to reduce your risk of spreading or catching the virus. Wearing a mask is the socially responsible thing to do, and therefore even if it is not mandatory to do so, you should always wear one whenever you are in a crowded area or cannot socially distance yourself from others.

Where are face coverings mandatory?

Most European countries have now adopted face mask regulations as part of their lockdown exit strategy and require people to wear a face covering in public spaces, public transport in particular.

In the UK, face coverings have been made compulsory to wear on public transport from June 15th , and in shops from July 24th. Similar regulation are in place in most countries across Europe, including Spain, Italy, France and Germany. US health officials recommend US citizens wear a simple cloth face covering, and in Central and South America, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba and Ecuador followed and made it mandatory to wear masks in public places. In many Asian countries wearing a face mask is not a new phenomenon and people are much more accustomed to it due to pollution or previous virus outbreaks. In summary, most countries across the world have now made the wearing of face coverings in public compulsory.

Will face coverings become mandatory in shops?

In the UK, from 24th July face coverings are now mandatory in shops. This means whenever you visit a supermarket, corner shop, clothes shop or even pet store, you are required to wear a mask. Those who do not comply can face fines of £100. Whilst not wearing one in a store puts you at risk of a hefty fine, it also means you risk both infecting others, and becoming infected with the virus. It is the socially responsible thing to wear a mask in store, especially in food stores where you may inadvertently be spreading the virus merely by speaking when not wearing a face covering. Now whenever you pop to the shops, don’t forget to grab a face mask before, you leave, this is your new normal.

Who sells face coverings?

At Bags of Ethics, we have developed a range of Designer Face Coverings in collaboration with The British Fashion Council and 6 British designers. These are being retailed to raise funds for 3 different charities, and to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. These can be bought on our website, on The British Fashion Council’s website, and then are being retailed in Sainsburys, John Lewis, Boots, Waitrose, and ASOS.

Can employers require face coverings?

The requirement of face masks differs across different places of work. In keyworker roles and for front-line staff working in medical settings, face masks are required to prevent staff from being exposed to people who may have, or do have the virus. However in most workplaces that did not previously need PPE, it is not mandatory for employees to wear face coverings. However, it is suggested that face coverings should be worn in places where social distancing is not possible. So it may be beneficial for employees to wear face coverings when sat closely in meetings, when moving around a busy office, or in professions that require employees to be close to others. However, like with any rules or regulations, individuals may be exempt from wearing face coverings if they have respiratory issues or disabilities.

Can face coverings cause acne?

Wearing a piece of cloth on your face daily can unfortunately affect your skin in different ways.
The fabric of your mask will inevitably rub on some specific parts of your face, such as your nose, chin and cheekbones. This repetitive friction affects your skin barrier, which might cause mild irritation to those with sensitive skin. As for acne-prone people, they can experience more black heads and breakouts, as face coverings create a moist environment, perfect for bacteria to develop. Face coverings can also be responsible for oil building up, from sweating or excess moisture and as a consequence, pores clogging up. However, you can prevent breakouts by washing your skin after each mask wear, washing the mask so that no bacteria can accumulate on the fabric and be transferred onto your skin, and choosing a breathable, skin-friendly fabric such as organic cotton. You should also try to wear little to no skin makeup under your mask, as makeup mixing with the oils produced by moisture and sweating can cause blemishes.

Can face coverings be reused?

Surgical face masks are designed to be single-use – worn once and then thrown away. They are made from plastic which means that their short life-span is incredibly bad for the environment, as they are discarded and end up in our oceans. However fabric face masks are a much better option, as they may be washed and reused, making them more planet and economically friendly. Ideally fabric masks should be washed after each use to avoid contamination, however hand washing is sufficient, and means that your face covering can be re-worn time and time again.

When to wear face coverings?

Currently in the UK, face coverings are mandatory on all forms of public transport – trains, tubes, planes, buses and in taxis, and for those working at, visiting or going as an outpatient to a hospital. They have also now become mandatory in all shops and supermarkets from 24th July. While not mandatory, it is recommended that you should wear a face covering at all of these places:

– All forms of public transport
– When visiting shops
– When in crowded places with lots of people such as outside shops or when waiting in queues
– When surrounded by groups of people such as when sat in pub gardens
– When travelling in indoor spaces such as when walking around a large office environment
– When visiting hospitals
– When going to appointments such as hair appointments, eye tests or doctors’ appointments