It’s such a contentious subject at the moment isn’t it. Why should we wear a face covering? They are not going to stop the virus? I can’t breathe in them, they make me panic, they are uncomfortable, they take away my identity….and so on.
But, from 24th July it will be compulsory in the UK to wear face covering in shops, and it’s already compulsory on public transport.
Who is Exempt from wearing a Face Covering?
According to the official Government guidance, the following are exempt from wearing face coverings:
- A child under the age of 11
- An employee of the transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
- Any other person providing services to the transport operator, under arrangements made with the transport operator, who is providing those services
- A constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
- An emergency responder such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
- An official, for example, a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
- If you are allocated a cabin, berth or other similar accommodation, at any time when you are in that accommodation, either alone, or only with members of your own household or a linked household
- If you are onboard public transport but remain in your private vehicle, for example on a car ferry.
here are also a number of instances which the Government describes as a “reasonable excuse” where one does not need to wear a mask, including:
- Those with a physical or mental illness or impairment
- Those with a disability which means they cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering
- Those who face severe distress due to putting on, wearing or removing a face covering
- Those who rely on lip-reading for communication or who provide assistance to or travel with these individuals
- Those who are travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm
- Those who need to remove it to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
- Those who need to eat, drink or take medication are permitted to remove their face covering
- Those asked to remove their covering by the police or other officials
- Those with autism.
Why Wear a Face Covering?
It’s claimed that they are not effective in stopping you from getting COVID19. This may be true, but if you can prevent others from breathing in your germs, and prevent yourself from breathing theirs, then surely it has to have some advantage. It’s not the perfect solution, it’s not going to get rid of COVID 19, but along with everything else, it may help in stopping the spread.
There are lots of different kinds of face covering available and the rulings do not state what type of face covering you need, so a simple piece of cloth (or a home made mask from a sock) may be all you need to get by without prosecution.
You can also get medical facemasks and ones used by those that work with chemicals. There is also no evidence that these will protect you from COVID19.
Then there is the argument that wearing a mask takes away your identity, hides who you really are. Who would rob a bank without a mask?
It’s difficult, but the law has been put in place, and without a face covering you could be facing a crime. (pun intended!)
Two things to remember
- They may not be as protective as we wish, but they can help stop spread germs and if everyone wears one then airborne germs should lessen. Even if you feel you don’t need protecting, you are doing your part in helping to protect others, in particular those who can’t wear face coverings.
- It won’t be forever. This will pass eventually (hopefully) and the more compliant we are as a human race to follow the imposed or recommended rules, the quicker we can get through this. (Fingers crossed.)
I Hate Wearing Face Coverings
For many people wearing a face covering can leave you gasping for air and even cause panic attacks. I’ve done a little research and come up with some helpful (hopefully) tips for you.
- Accustomise yourself to wearing a covering. Wear your mask at home, get used to it in a safe environment. Don’t just put it on and think about it, do something, the washing up, the hoovering, play a computer game…anything that makes you think less about the fact your face is covered.
- Expose yourself slowly, start with 10 minutes, then 20. Build up the time you wear your covering, but don’t wear it all day.
- Try different types of covering. some are more effective than others but find something you find comfortable. We don’t know if wearing covers are going to work, but if you are obliged to wear one then find one that you feel comfortable in. You can buy cheap throwaway ones, or make one yourself. Or even buy more expensive ones. But they feel different and you need to find what works for you.
Here are some breathing techniques that may help you
- Practice breathing through your nose rather than your mouth. Do this first without a face covering until it becomes more natural. Then try it with a covering.
- Take a deep breath in filling your lungs. Hold for a count of three then let it out quickly. Do this a couple of times. Then do it before putting on your face covering.
- Take a deep breath in filling your lungs, then slowly release the breath. Practice several times before putting on your mask.
- Practice slowing your breathing down, focus on your your breathing, in and out. Do the same with your face covering on.
- Take a deep breathe and then when you release it, do a big sigh. Do this just before putting your covering on to trick your brain into thinking the trauma is already over.
- Remember that breathing in your own breathe for periods of time is not a bad thing. We breathe out CO2 which when increased in our breathing in helps our blood cells release oxygen into our muscles and organs.
What about my Glasses?
If you wear glasses you may have noticed that wearing face coverings make them steam up. There are a few tips for this, but I admit, I’ve yet to try them.
- Wash your glasses in soapy water, rinse and air dry (apparently this is the trick that surgeons use.
- wipe shaving cream on your glasses and then wipe off with a tissue without rinsing.
- wear a mask which fits really tightly over your nose, or add a thin metal wire to close the cap between mask and eyes
I hope this helps in some way. I’ve yet to go out, but when I do I have several face coverings ready. I’m trying to get ready by wearing them at home and practising my breathing techniques. I only wear reading glasses, so I’ll make sure I have mine washed in soap and ready.
If you have anything to add, then please do so in the comments.