The rules for staying safe during Coronavirus sometimes feel like they are changing daily. It can feel difficult to keep up and know what your responsibilities are. We want to offer some clarity for what the rules are and what impact they have on the elderly. The government recently announced that wearing masks inside shops was mandatory. This is also the case for enclosed public spaces and transport. It is in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus as shops and restaurants begin to reopen. Officials hope this will help the economy to recover whilst keeping the consumers safe.
Why Wear a Mask?
It’s no surprise people are confused about the effectiveness of masks. The information first provided about masks was sparse and perplexing. Scientific advice didn’t seem certain about how effective they would be. However, as time has gone on and the severity of the Coronavirus pandemic has become clear, the government is now stressing the importance of wearing masks inside shops and other enclosed spaces.
The purpose of the masks is to prevent respiratory droplets transferring from your mouth to other people and surfaces around you. A laboratory study demonstrated that one person can produce hundreds of droplets just from saying a simple phrase. This means that normal conversation can put people at risk of catching the virus. Another study of people with influenza or the common cold found that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduced the amount of virus droplets that emitted.
Unfortunately, we know very little about COVID-19 compared to other illnesses and, as a result, we have to go off the information we do have of other, similarly-transmitted viruses. Scientists are trying to collect as much data as possible in order to understand the virus better and save lives.
Do Face Masks Protect the Wearer?
There has been lots of debate about whether wearing a mask protects the wearer or those around them. The answer is that it largely depends on the type of mask. Surgical masks with valves work by filtering the air before the wearer breathes it in, protecting them from threats around them. However, in this instance, the valve does not filter the air being breathed out. In fact, the valve directs the air into one concentrated stream, which actually puts other people around the wearer at higher risk of transmission, unless the wearer also uses a medical visor. As we all likely know, medical masks and visors have been in short supply for quite some time, and should therefore be reserved for medical staff and other key workers who need them.
Instead, the government is urging us to wear cloth masks and other face coverings. As previously mentioned, these masks protect the people around the wearer by preventing their respiratory droplets from travelling as far or as fast as they otherwise would. This is why it is so vital that as many people as possible wear masks inside shops and other enclosed spaces.
What are the Government Guidelines?
From the 24th July 2020, it became mandatory to wear masks inside shops. If you are in a pub or restaurant where you are consuming food and drink, you may remove your covering whilst on site. However, you should wear your mask as frequently as you can to be as safe as possible when out and about. Businesses have been “encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage their customers to follow the new law”.
Those exempt from this law are children under the age of 11 and those with disabilities or health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments, that make it difficult to wear a face covering. Anyone found not wearing a face covering without a reasonable exemption could face a fine up to £100 by police.
What are the Shops’ Rules?
Many shops have come forward and explained they will not force customers to wear a mask. This includes supermarkets like ASDA and Sainsbury’s. They have made it clear that it is not the job of the staff to enforce the law. Some will challenge customers and some won’t, so it is best to ensure you have your mask on as often as you can to avoid being turned away.
The key point about wearing masks is to protect those who need it most. The elderly and clinically vulnerable rely on everyone else to follow the rules in order to keep them safe. It has been an extremely difficult few months for all of us, but we should make sure to do everything we can in order to make the world safer for those who are vulnerable.
Protect Your Loved Ones with a Careline Alarm
It can be daunting to leave your elderly loved ones alone for long periods of time. Those without carers or regular visitors may feel vulnerable to a fall or feeling unwell. Careline365 are able to send help to our alarm users when they need it most. For more information or place an order, call our Customer Service Team on 0800 101 3333. Alternatively, you can Contact Us online.