First News - - SCIENCE NEWS -

CON­FUSED about who should wear face cov­er­ings, when and where? You’re not alone! The rules have changed so much lately, it has been hard to keep up. Here’s a guide to what the rules are across the UK, as First News went to press.


Most of the rules ap­ply to those aged 11 or over, but younger chil­dren can use face cov­er­ings if they want. Many shops are sell­ing cov­er­ings and masks for kids.

You don’t have to use a face cov­er­ing if you have a phys­i­cal or men­tal ill­ness or dis­abil­ity that makes it hard for you. If you care for a deaf per­son who re­lies on lip read­ing, you don’t need to use a cov­er­ing. You also don’t have to wear one in pub­lic if you are eat­ing, drink­ing or tak­ing medicine.


ENG­LAND: In­di­vid­ual sec­ondary schools can de­mand pupils use cov­er­ings in com­mu­nal ar­eas, where so­cial dis­tanc­ing is not pos­si­ble. They will not have to wear them in class­rooms. Cov­er­ings are oblig­a­tory in all sec­ondary schools and col­leges that are in ar­eas where lo­cal lock­downs or COVID-19 re­stric­tions are in place, such as Old­ham and Northamp­ton. There are no re­quire­ments for face cov­er­ings in pri­mary schools.

SCOT­LAND AND NORTH­ERN IRE­LAND: All sec­ondary pupils in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land must wear face cov­er­ings in cor­ri­dors and com­mu­nal ar­eas. They will not have to wear them in class­rooms. On school trans­port, those aged over five must wear face cov­er­ings in Scot­land.

WALES: In­di­vid­ual schools can set their own rules, but the Welsh govern­ment ad­vises all those aged 11 and over to wear cov­er­ings where so­cial dis­tanc­ing is hard to main­tain.



IRE­LAND: Face cov­er­ings must be worn in shops, su­per­mar­kets and shop­ping centres by all peo­ple aged 11 and over. Fail­ure to wear a cov­er­ing can be pun­ished by a po­lice fine of up to £100 in Eng­land, or £60 in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land.

WALES: There is no re­quire­ment to wear a face cov­er­ing in Welsh shops.


ENG­LAND AND SCOT­LAND: Over-11s must wear face cov­er­ings in al­most all pub­lic in­door lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing li­braries, cin­e­mas, banks, build­ing so­ci­eties, post of­fices and places of wor­ship. Where it is “im­prac­ti­cal” to wear a cov­er­ing – such as in a restau­rant, café or gym – it is not oblig­a­tory.

WALES: As with shops, there is no rule re­quir­ing peo­ple to use face cov­er­ings in other pub­lic in­door spa­ces.


ENG­LAND, WALES, SCOT­LAND AND NORTH­ERN IRE­LAND: Face cov­er­ings must be worn at all times on all pub­lic trans­port, but this ap­plies to those aged 5+ in Scot­land, 11+ in Eng­land and Wales, and 13+ in North­ern Ire­land.

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