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
Where face coverings should be worn

Where face coverings should be worn

Face coverings are a legal requirement in certain indoor public places, indoor communal spaces including retail, restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses, and in workplaces and on public transport. This is because transmission is most likely to occur when people are close to each other, in crowded and poorly ventilated places. Part 2 of the Regulations provides more information about the relevant provisions.

You must, by law, wear a face covering in the following places:

  • public transport services and premises - this includes when seated in a hospitality setting. For example, when not eating or drinking in a café/restaurant on a ferry or train
  • any building or room used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services, such as shops, takeaway restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, estate agents, shopping malls, post offices, among others
  • any building or room used for the provision of a close contact service such as, hair dressers and beauty and nail parlours
  • any indoor, or part of any indoor, public place where a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration is taking place,
  • any indoor, or part of an indoor, public space used as a polling station or for counting votes in an election
  • banks, building societies and credit unions
  • community centres
  • conference or exhibition centres
  • entertainment venues, such as cinemas, indoor theatres, comedy clubs, concert halls, casinos
  • crematoriums and funeral directors' premises
  • hospitality premises, including those in hotels or members’ clubs, such as bars, public houses, cafes and restaurants
  • indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres
  • indoor leisure facilities, such as soft play centres, bingo halls, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, snooker and pool halls, indoor funfairs, indoor skating rinks
  • inside a vehicle while in use for a driving lesson or driving test, unless all occupants are members of the same household
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • museums, and galleries
  • nightclubs, dance halls or discotheques, or sexual entertainment venues
  • premises at which members’ clubs or societies meet
  • places of worship
  • registration offices
  • sports stadiums
  • storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop-off points
  • workplaces and workplaces canteens (other than early learning or school settings). Read about exemptions apply in the work place.

Wearing face coverings in other spaces

It is recommended that you wear face coverings outdoors in crowded spaces and where it is not possible to keep a safe distance, such as at the school gate or at the entrance to a building.


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