When do I have to wear a face mask? Covid rules explained as face coverings to be compulsory in some settings

As a response to the new strain of Covid mask wearing will now become mandatory in shops across Leeds.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 12:37 pm

Mask-wearing will become a legal requirement again in some settings in England as a response to the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

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The first cases of the Omicron variant emerged earlier this month in southern Africa, and this new strain is suspected to be more contagious than previous strains such as Delta.

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As a response to the new strain of Covid mask wearing will now become mandatory in some settings. Photo: PA/Wire

Omicron also carries with it a new set of symptoms that differ from other forms of the virus, including fatigue and a high pulse.

To prevent the spread of the strain in England it will be compulsory to wear a mask in certain communal areas in Leeds from today (Tuesday 30 November).

This is what you need to know about the new rules for face coverings in England.

Where do I need to wear a mask?

People will have to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport.

Secondary school pupils are also being advised to wear masks in communal areas, as are staff and visitors at all schools and childcare settings.

Masks were already recommended in crowded and enclosed spaces as part of the government's Covid "Autumn and Winter Plan".

Why do face coverings help prevent the spread of the virus?

Evidence suggests most Covid transmissions happen indoors where people are closer together.

Face coverings worn over the nose and mouth reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets from coughs, sneezes and while speaking.

The main purpose is to protect others although there is some evidence they offer protection to those wearing the mask.

Masks can also help reduce virus spread from contagious people who are asymptomatic.

What are the best masks to use?

The best face coverings have a nose wire, at least two layers of material and fit snugly over the mouth, nose and chin.

The highest level of protection is provided by FFP3 masks worn by healthcare workers, with a recent study discovering that FFP3 masks could provide up to 100% protection against Covid.

Hospital staff wearing standard surgical masks were much more likely to catch the virus.

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