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A government document published on Tuesday said the evidence backing the use of face coverings was “limited”, but conceded: “There may be some benefit in wearing a facial covering when you leave the house and enter enclosed spaces, especially where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people you do not usually meet. [...]
“We are recommending that you consider using face coverings in the limited circumstances described above as a precautionary measure.”
Other examples include travelling on public transport or entering a food shop where it is not always possible to maintain a two-metre distance from another customer.
It adds: “There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors, unless in an unavoidable crowded situation, where there may be some benefit.
“As some people can have the virus but experience no symptoms, wearing a face covering in the situations outlined above may provide some level of protection against transmission to other people in close proximity.”
The guidance recommends using face coverings in such circumstances “as a precautionary measure” but states the public use of them is not being made mandatory at this stage.
It does, however, impress that the guidance could change.
The UK government has yet to make a decision on whether to follow suit.
Face coverings are different to a surgical or other medical grade mask and refer to a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf.