Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings and masks

Published: 30 Oct 2020
Last updated: 12 Oct 2021 - see all updates

Rules and guidance on wearing face coverings and masks, including exemptions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings and masks
Children and young people

Children and young people

By law, children and young people of 12 years of age and over must wear face coverings, unless exempt, in most indoor public places, including:  

  • public transport
  • shops
  • cafes and restaurants

See: information on where a face covering should be worn

Children under 12 do not need to wear a face covering. Scientific evidence continues to show that children and young people, especially those under 12, are less likely to develop serious illness and to spread the virus to other children and adults. 

Babies and toddlers should never have a face covering for safety reasons, as is a risk  of overheating, suffocation and strangulation.

Some children and young people may be exempt from wearing a face covering. In line with the regulations, parents, carers and other relevant adults are able to use individual discretion to determine whether the child or young person (aged between 12 and 17 years) can or cannot tolerate wearing a face covering appropriately.  Some of the considerations to inform this decision may include, but are not limited to:

  • the child or young person’s capacity to wear a face covering appropriately
  • availability of adult supervision to wear a face covering safely
  • potential impact on learning or psychological development

See a list of reasons why you may be exempt from wearing a face covering.

For more information on face coverings in schools and educational settings see guidance on reducing the risks in schools.

Parents and carers can find more information at the Parent Hub website.


First published: 30 Oct 2020 Last updated: 12 Oct 2021 -