Use of face coverings in a close contact setting - access to the mouth/nose area and safe use of PPE
While face coverings must continue to be worn in indoor public places by customers and staff, unless you are exempt, a client/customer may temporarily remove a face covering to allow access to their mouth/nose area, as long as the person/practitioner providing the treatment/service is wearing appropriate protective equipment as detailed below.
Staff are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19 when working in close proximity to the face, nose or mouth. For this reason, risk assessments should be carried out to consider what measures need to be implemented to protect the health and safety of all staff and clients/customers, including whether or not to carry out the treatment/service. Risk assessments should be regularly reviewed or revised to ensure that any new or increased risks – including local prevalence of the virus - are identified and mitigated.
Employers and those self-employed must continue to conduct and regularly review COVID-19 risk assessments to ensure all reasonable measures to minimise exposure are taken.
Further advice on supporting staff, including equalities considerations, is available in the general guidance for safer workplaces.
Prior to undertaking any treatments/services, first check that the client has not had any symptoms of COVID-19 and is not self-isolating for any reason.
To carry out a treatment/service requiring the temporary removal of a client/customer’s face covering, the person/practitioner should wear a Fluid Resistant Surgical Face Mask (Type IIR mask) and eye protection (goggles or a full face visor). Disposable gloves and an apron may also be appropriate where contact with blood or body fluids is anticipated and dependent on the outcome of the risk assessment. Careful attention should be paid to other mitigations such as ventilation. The face covering must only be removed as long as is necessary to receive the treatment/provide the service to that area, in line with current face covering regulations. If treatments/services continue elsewhere, a face covering must be immediately replaced. Under no circumstances should the client’s face covering be removed if the practitioner is not wearing the right grade of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or if the practitioner is not carrying out a treatment to the mouth/nose area (even when wearing the right grade PPE).
Where possible treatments should continue to be provided whilst staff are positioned to the side or rear of the client’s head.
It is recommended that the client/customer is asked to safely remove and hold their face covering immediately before the treatment/service commences. In light of the increased risk of virus transmission, treatment/service times should be kept to a minimum and it is advised that clients avoid conversation as much as possible while their face covering is removed. The client/customer should replace their face covering as soon as this part of the treatment/service is finished. Any third parties in the room, (children/carers etc.) should retain their face coverings at all times and not engage in conversation whilst the client’s face covering is removed.
The person/practitioner should wear a Fluid Resistant Surgical Face Mask (Type IIR mask) and eye protection (goggles or a full face visor) when carrying out a treatment/service requiring the temporary removal of a client/customer’s face covering. At all other times, general face covering guidance applies.
Type IIR face masks are medical face masks made up of a 4 ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching the client/customer. Type IIR Face masks include a splash resistant layer to protect against splash. This will provide personal protection from any droplets expelled by the client while coughing/speaking/sneezing during any treatments in close proximity to the face, mouth or nose. A new mask should be used for each client.
You can use a visor which covers your full face but this must be worn along with a Type IIR face mask.
Typically, they provide a barrier between you and the client from droplets spread by:
Your visor should fit you and you should wear it properly alongside a Type IIR face mask. They should:
- cover your forehead
- extend below your chin
- wrap around the side of your face
You can get disposable and reusable visors.
When you use reusable visors, clean and disinfect them between each client. Use your normal cleaning products. Disposable visors should be disposed of after each client.
You can use goggles instead of a clear visor. These must also be worn alongside a Type IIR face mask.
Goggles can protect your eyes. To stop droplets getting into your eyes, goggles must:
- be close fitting
- have no obvious openings or vents
You should clean goggles and other reusable eye protection in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
How to put on your Type IIR face mask
Before you put on your face mask, make sure you’re fully hydrated. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.
Some masks have ties instead of ear loops. If yours has ties, make sure you tie it securely at the crown and the nape of your neck.
- Once your mask is on, make sure it is extended to cover your nose, mouth and chin.
- Ensure your mask is flat against your cheeks. With both hands, mould the metal strip over the bridge of your nose.
How to use your Type IIR face mask safely
Keep your hands away from your face and face mask.
Your face mask should cover both your nose and your mouth.
- wear it once and then discard it safely, ideally into a non-touch and self-closing bin
- change it if it becomes moist or damaged, or if difficult to breathe through
- use a new mask for each client
How to take off your Type IIR face mask
It is important that you remove your face mask safely.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser.
- Untie or break the bottom ties first. Then do the same with the top ties or elastic.
- Handling only the ties, gently pull the mask away from your face and remove it
- Discard the mask safely. Ideally do this into a non-touch and self-closing bin.
- If used, discard of any aprons and gloves safely, in the same manner as the mask.
- Wash your hands again or use hand sanitiser.