COVID-19

COVID-19 Advice on Face Coverings Issue Date Version Issued by 21 st July 2020

The House of Bishops Recovery Group The Recovery Group has been set up to support the Church of England as government guidance changes through the COVID-19 pandemic. This document has been prepared with information available by the issue date. It will be kept under review and updated as the situation develops, with each update issued as a new version. The current version will always be available to download from the Church of England website via the Coronavirus FAQs page. This guidance is to help ministers and their congregations to understand the current advice on wearing face coverings, and how this applies in churches. This advice is reflected in the specific Government guidance for conducting various worship services within enclosed spaces such as church buildings.

 

1. Q. Should I wear a face covering in a church building?

A. Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport and will be mandatory in shops and in supermarkets from 24 July 2020. People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet, such as a place of worship.

We strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.

 

2. Q. What is a face covering?

A. A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face. These are different from surgical and other face masks that are part of PPE used in health and social care settings. We do not recommend the use of PPE in church buildings other than for specialist cleaning activities.

 

3. Q. Why should we wear face coverings?

A. Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread predominantly by droplets and perhaps aerosols from coughs, sneezes and speaking. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering can reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others. 2 Version 1 – issued 21 st July 2020 Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.

 

4. Q. How should I wear a face covering?

A. A face covering should: • cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably • fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face • be secured to the head with ties or ear loops • be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton • ideally include at least two layers of fabric (the World Health Organisation recommends three depending on the fabric used) • unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged When wearing a face covering you should: • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on • avoid wearing on your neck or forehead • avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus • change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it When removing a face covering: • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing • only handle the straps, ties or clips • do not share with someone else to use • if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle • if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed.

 

5. Q. Are there exemptions from wearing face coverings?

A. You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes: • young children under the age of 11 • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you • to eat or drink, but only if you need to • to take medication • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked: • If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication.

 

6. Q. How can I make a face covering?

A. If you want to make your own face covering, instructions are widely available online. If you would like more information on how to make a face covering with materials from around your home please visit the Big Community Sew website.

 

7. Q. How can I store or dispose of a face covering safely?

A. Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. If the face covering is single use, dispose of it in a residual waste bin. Do not put them in a recycling bin. Make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched using normal household cleaning products.

Wash your face covering regularly and follow the washing instructions for the fabric. You can use your normal detergent. You can wash and dry it with other laundry. You must throw away your face covering if it is damaged. Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. If the face covering is single use, dispose of it in a residual waste bin. Do not put them in a recycling bin. Make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched using normal household cleaning products. If eating in a restaurant, for example, it is important that you do not place the face covering on the table. Wash your face covering regularly and follow the washing instructions for the fabric. You can use your normal detergent. You can wash and dry it with other laundry. You must throw away your face covering if it is damaged.

For more information go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-towear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own