Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings

Published: 30 Oct 2020
Last updated: 24 Sep 2021 - see all updates

Explains where you need to wear a face covering and exemptions from wearing one.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings
Face coverings for children and young people

Face coverings for children and young people

Face coverings are mandatory for children and young people of 12 years of age and over in most indoor public places, including retail, restaurants, cafes, and in workplaces and on public transport. Some children and young people may be exempt from wearing a face coverings, a list of these exemptions is available.

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. Therefore, babies and toddlers are exempt due to risk of overheating, suffocation and strangulation, and children and young people under 12 years of age are also exempt from the mandatory requirement to wear 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. A risk assessment of the potential risks and benefits should be carried out and if it is determined that the child cannot safely wear a face covering, then they are not required to do so.

Some of the considerations to inform the risk assessment may include (but is 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

For more information on face coverings in schools and educational settings please see Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools.


First published: 30 Oct 2020 Last updated: 24 Sep 2021 -