As part of the next stage of easing lockdown restrictions, the government made wearing face coverings a mandatory requirement for using public transport in England from 15 June. This means that passengers on busses, coaches, trains, undergrounds, ferries, and aircrafts must now cover their mouth and nose to help reducing the spread of COVID-19, when social distancing cannot always be achieved. However, the new regulations also come with a lot of uncertainty about the types of face coverings that are allowed on public transport.
Face covering vs. face masks
There are plenty of different ways of covering mouth and nose, face coverings are however, not per se the same as face masks. While face coverings simply refer to any piece of fabric that can be used to cover mouth and nose, face masks are generally manufactured professionally, come in different materials, shapes and sizes, and are typically used for healthcare services. Due to the coronavirus outbreak though, medical-grade face masks are in short supply around the world while being desperately needed by our frontline staff. It is therefore important for the public not to opt for surgical PPE masks. Instead, the government advises to make your own face covering at home by easily using a scarf or an old t-shirt. The only requirement for these face coverings is a snug fit around mouth and nose, so the wearer can still breathe comfortably, but the emitting of droplets from breathing, coughing, sneezing, or talking is limited significantly.
Why is it so important to wear a face covering on public transport?
Any type of face covering can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by stopping the emission of droplets and is therefore an extremely useful way to stop the virus. Especially in confined spaces such as shops or public transport, where social distancing is not always possible, it is incredibly important to protect others by wearing a face covering. It is often underestimated that many people who have COVID do not show any symptoms and might therefore be unaware of the risk they pose to others. By wearing a face covering, though, this risk of infecting others is drastically reduced. The Transport for London, for instance, now distributes face masks free of charge at major London Underground and train stations to make sure everyone is sufficiently equipped with protective gear.
Should I opt for a disposable mask or a reusable face covering?
Given their convenient use as well as cheap unit price, many people choose to wear a disposable face mask. However, unfortunately, they have negative effects on both people and planet: They are not only in short supply across the world, but also harm our environment, particularly marine wildlife. Therefore, we strongly recommend opting for any type of reusable fabric face covering, who are not only cheaper in the long run, but also protect our oceans. At Bags of Ethics™ you will find a broad range of reusable and washable fabric masks that contain no single-use plastic. The face coverings have been developed by British and European scientists and designers, so they fulfil all necessary requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19, while reducing the stigma of wearing a mask. Pick your favourite here.