Face masks: New quality stamp shows how well your covering works as masks become mandatory

Face masks: New quality stamp shows how well your covering works as masks become mandatory

July 17, 2020

Supermarket shoppers will soon be expected to wear face masks in many parts of the UK. Wearing a face covering is also mandatory on public transport. A new quality stamp is being introduced to help Britons tell how well their covering works.

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Some people have worn face masks when going out since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Although this was not mandatory straight away, Britons were advised to wear them when in crowded places.

Now, government rules state all shoppers in England will need to cover up when visiting shops.

Wearing face masks in stores in Scotland has been required since July 10.

Items including scarves, bandanas and homemade coverings can also be used.

While coverings are not classed as personal protective equipment by the government, they are thought to protect those in contact with the wearer.

With more Britons needing a mask, supermarkets and fashion retailers alike have brought out their own versions.

These range from single use coverings to reusable cloth masks.

With many different masks available, some offer better protection than others.

However, there could soon be a way for Britons to find out how effective their face covering is.

A new Kitemark is being launched by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

The BSI offers trademarks as a sign of quality for a product or service.

Its new scheme will assess face coverings to see how well they work.

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This will include a “breathability” test and masks will be held to a specification requiring they have 70 percent particle filtration.

The first masks with the Kitemark are expected to be available in late July.

Chief executive of BSI Howard Kerr said: “There is an overwhelming choice of face coverings available in the market.

“The challenge is knowing which claims they make are valid and whether they provide a basic level of protection to others.

“Face coverings that are independently assessed to schemes such as the Kitemark will allow consumers to make an informed and trusted decision.

“As we continue to pull together as a country to combat the impact of Covid-19, it is important that we all take appropriate measures to protect one another.

“Whilst a face covering can never provide the same level of personal protection as a PPE or medical grade face mask, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for such products to be diverted to general consumer use.

“Providing consumers with confidence that their face covering provides some level of protection for those around them will help reduce the spread of the virus whilst we emerge from lockdown.”

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