Don’t just stand there – let’s get to it , wear a mask – there’s nothing to it

Not even the best fashion forecasters would have predicted that the hottest fashion accessory for 2020 would be the face mask.

As wearing a facemask is set to become mandatory in shops in England from the 24th of July, many are finding new ways to follow the government guidelines while using everyday items as face coverings.

UK based health and safety experts Protecting.co.uk has been following the unlikely facemask style trend and has seen reports of people coming up with inventive solutions to cover their faces.

“I’ve seen people on the train wearing all sorts in place of your bog-standard facemask, such as scarves, bike helmets and even the odd carrier bag,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.

“But the lady wearing a clear plastic bucket over her head is as wild as it’s been on the 06.40 into Waterloo.”

Covering up

Wearing a face covering is about to become mandatory in shops in England, fiveweeks after they became mandatory on public transport on the 15th June. *

More people will have to get used to wearing a face covering in order to go about their daily duties, leading to innovative results.

Protecting.co.uk asked people what they were using for face masks now that you need to wear them in shops and on public transport, and while we don’t personally advocate that you wear these suggestions, you cannot deny the creativity of some people.

  • “I went as Spiderman last Halloween and I’ve still got the mask. I’ll be ready to do the weekly shop and fight crime if required.”
  • “My wife booked us a caravan away in a couple of weeks, think I’ll save on the packing and just wrap my beach towel around my head if I need to pop into any shops.”
  • “Used to earn extra money as a mascot for a kids football team, and I’m tempted to wear the costume to my local shopping centre and see how people react.”
  • “We just finished unpacking from moving to a new house and there’s loads of bubble wrap laying around, it would be a shame not to repurpose it.”
  • “Bought a gas mask years ago for a Doctor Who cosplay and it’s functional so why not make good use of it?”
  • “Had a bit of a wardrobe clear-out during lockdown, so will be putting my old bras to good use as makeshift masks for my husband and I.”
  • “Gimp mask. Don’t act so shocked, there’s a community of us out there.”

Hall: “There’s a whole world of items you could use as a face covering, but just because you can wear it, it doesn’t mean you should wear it.”

“I’m no prude, but gimp masks are not something that should see the light of day in a civilised society, and I very much doubt that you could breathe through a beach towel or bubble wrap.”

The official guidelines

As amusing as it would be to chuck on your kids snorkel from last summer’s holiday abroad to get your weekly shopping done, this is the point where we have to ruin your fun and point out the official health and safety guidelines which have been put in place for your safety.

The guidelines call for your mouth and nose to be efficiently covered, so long as you can still comfortably breathe, and that the face covering is secure to your head.**

Hall: “People need to remember that when putting on and removing masks, they need to wash their hands thoroughly, and dispose or wash the mask depending on whether it’s single use or not.”

Protecting.co.uk also emphasise that wearing face coverings does not make you exempt from social distancing measures, as these are all guidelines that need to be practiced together to reduce the risk of Covid-19.

Creative alternatives for face coverings may also not always be the best solution, as a few people have already found out.

Dave from Cheltenham says he thought his motorbike helmet with the visor down would be fine, until he was asked to leave the train station. “I don’t know why,” he wails.

“I’d hoped wearing it would make me seem cool and aloof like The Stig, but in reality it meant I couldn’t get on the train and was late to work.”

We’d like to point out that motorcycle helmets are – for obvious reasons – still frowned upon in banks, post offices and most shops.

Hall: “Don’t end up like Dave, make sure you check that what you’re planning to use as a face covering is appropriate, or you will end up being kicked out of the supermarket and could even be fined!”

How to dispose of your facemask

UK waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk have the following advice

You should wash and reuse cloth face coverings to prevent and reduce waste.

Remove PPE carefully, and avoid touching the inside of your face covering.

After you remove your PPE or face covering, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser.

If you need to throw away used face coverings or PPE, such as gloves:

  • dispose of them in your ‘black bag’ waste bin at home or at work, or a litter bin if you’re outside
  • do not put them in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
  • take them home with you if there is no litter bin – do not drop them as litter

You do not need to:

  • put them in an extra bag
  • store them for a time before throwing them away

Protecting.co.uk have provided a free to use COVID 19 risk assessment that can be completed online or downloaded and adapted https://protecting.co.uk/covid-19-risk-assessment/