Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings guidance

Published: 30 Oct 2020
Last updated: 23 Apr 2021 - see all updates

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings guidance
Where face coverings should be worn

Where face coverings should be worn

We have made face coverings mandatory in most 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. Schedule 7 of the Regulations provides more information about the relevant provisions.

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

  • health and social care settings, including staff, patients and visitors
  • public transport service and premises
  • workplaces (other than early learning or school settings)
  • any premises open to members of the public and used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services, such as shops, takeaway restaurants, pharmacies, estate agents, beauty parlours and shopping malls
  • hospitality premises such as bars, pubs and cafes and restaurants, and canteens (including workplace canteens)
  • banks, building societies, credit unions and post offices
  • courts and tribunal buildings
  • places of worship
  • visitor attractions, indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites such as museums and galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms,
  • entertainment venues such as cinemas, indoor theatres, comedy clubs, concert halls, soft play centres, bingo halls, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, snooker and pool halls, and other leisure facilities,  indoor funfairs and indoor skating rinks
  • community centres
  • crematoriums and funeral directors' premises
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop-off points
  • indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres
  • sports stadiums
  • conference or exhibition centres

Wearing face coverings in other spaces

You are advised to wear a face covering in all other indoor places and where there is a risk of being within 2 metres of people who are not members of your household. This includes public toilets.

It is recommended that you wear face coverings outdoors in situations where 2 metre physical distancing is not always possible, such as at the school gate or at the entrance to a building. In such circumstances you are expected to wear a face covering.

Face coverings is only one of the measures in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, face coverings should not be used as an alternative to any of the other FACTS measures. Good hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing and enhanced ventilation in indoor spaces are also key for reducing the risk of infection. All of these things, together, form an extremely effective package of interventions in supressing COVID-19.

First published: 30 Oct 2020 Last updated: 23 Apr 2021 -