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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch Wokingham

Advice on wearing a face mask; do's and don'ts

Hope and Care – 24 August 2020

On June 15th, it became mandatory in England for face masks to be worn on public transport or when attending hospital as a visitor or outpatient. From July 24th face masks will also be mandatory in shops and supermarkets. Anyone who fails to adhere to the new rules will face a £100 fine which will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

Face masks reduce onward transmission of the coronavirus and therefore are intended to protect others and not the wearer. However, face masks are not a replacement for social distancing. There are groups of people who are not required to wear a mask. These include those under the age of 11 and certain individuals when acting in the course of their duty. You also do not need to wear a mask on board public transport where you remain in your own vehicle, such as a car ferry.

Other legitimate exemptions include those with a disability or a physical or mental illness. People travelling with a deaf person who relies on lip reading to communicate are also exempt. Unfortunately, standard face masks have a detrimental effect on the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or have hearing loss. Transparent face masks have started to become available, but they are still not widely accessible.

Some disabilities are hidden and not immediately obvious such as learning difficulties, mental health, mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. Some people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are sensitive to touch so wearing a face mask presents many unpleasant sensations which can lead to frustration and distress. Many with severe learning disabilities might not be able to tolerate wearing a mask and trying to enforce the request could result in challenging behaviour, putting themselves or others at risk. Anyone with a respiratory condition such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or lung cancer should also not wear a mask if it makes their condition worse.

If you are exempt from wearing a mask due to a condition or hidden disability, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard Scheme has a range of exemption badges and lanyards. You can order one at

If you want to make your own face mask, there are many DIY guides available online in addition to buying guides which will ensure that you choose the right mask for you.

When applying your mask:

· Wash your hands thoroughly before putting it on and taking it off.

· Ensure that there are no gaps between the bridge of your nose and where it fits under your




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