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03 August 2020

Guidance on Face Coverings for COVID-19

Information includes tips for preventing face coverings from irritating your psoriasis.

As part of the gradual changes in restrictions, people across the UK are now being asked to wear a face covering (something which safely covers the nose and mouth) in certain circumstances. However, the specific guidance varies in different parts of the UK.


In England, you must now wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • On public transport
  • Indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • In shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • Indoor shopping centres
  • Banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)
  • In NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave.

From Saturday 8th August, the list of places in which it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in England will be expanded to include:

  • Funeral directors
  • Premises providing professional, legal or financial services
  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Bingo halls
  • Concert halls
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
  • Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers - other than where necessary to remove for treatments
  • Massage parlours
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels
  • Places of worship
  • Libraries and public reading rooms
  • Community centres
  • Social clubs
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Indoor entertainment venues (amusement arcades, funfairs, adventure activities e.g. laser quest, go-karting, escape rooms, heritage sites etc)
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Veterinary services
  • Auction houses

The Government recommends face coverings are worn in these settings now but this will not be mandatory until 8th August.

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet. They are advised to be worn in care homes. Individual settings may have their own policies and require you to take other measures.

You are not required to wear a face covering in restaurants with table service, bars, and pubs).

More specific information about circumstances in which the law does not apply, or you can remove your face covering, can be found here.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you are under the age of 11, or if you have a legitimate reason not to, examples of which can be found here. Exemption card templates are available for people who may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering.


The Scottish Government is supporting the use of face coverings in enclosed spaces, where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household.

In Scotland, you must now wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • In shops (any indoor establishment which offers goods or services for sale or hire)
  • On public transport (including travel by train, subway, bus, tram, ferry and airline services as well as when using taxis and private hire vehicles) and in public transport premises (including railway and bus stations, airports. and open-air railway platforms), but NOT bus stops

You are not required to wear a face covering in hospitality premises (such as cafes, coffee shops, restaurants or pubs) or on the premises of money services businesses such as banks and building societies.

Exemptions to this guidance in Scotland include children under 5 years of age, and people with a reasonable excuse, examples of which can be found here.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive is currently recommending that people should consider wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces, in particular where social distancing is difficult or not possible.

It is compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in Northern Ireland. This includes on buses, coaches and train services, indoor areas of ferries (and outdoor areas where it's not possible to keep 2 metres apart), and in public transport stations. This law does not apply to tour coaches and taxis or private hire vehicles but some operators may have their own rules you should follow.

Exemptions to this guidance in Northern Ireland include children under 13 years of age, and people with a reasonable excuse, examples of which can be found here.


The Welsh Government recommends that people in Wales wear three-layer face coverings in circumstances where it might be difficult to stay 2 metres away from others.

It is now compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in Wales. This requirement applies to all enclosed public transport vehicles including buses, coaches, trains, trams, ferries and aircraft (where they take off or land in Wales). It also applies to taxis and to tourist services, such as mountain railways and excursion buses.

Face coverings should be worn for the duration of the journey on public transport, however there is no legal requirement to wear a face covering while waiting for transport to arrive.

Exemptions to this guidance in Wales include children under the age of 11 and people who have a reasonable excuse, examples of which can be found here.

The Welsh Government is advising passengers to carry information if possible which demonstrates why they have a reasonable excuse (for example a prescription or evidence such as a hospital appointment letter relating to a medical condition), while some transport operators provide the facility for those who have a reasonable excuse to download and print a card from their website.

Why are we being advised to wear a face covering?

While evidence suggests that face coverings will not protect you against COVID-19, when used correctly they may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others if you are infected but do not know it. Please note that face coverings do not replace social distancing and if you have symptoms of COVID-19 your whole household must stay at home.

Young children or individuals who find it difficult to wear face coverings, such as people with breathing difficulties or primary school children who cannot use a covering without help, are not advised to wear them.

Wearing a face covering

A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face. The government has provided advice on how to wear and make your own face covering, which can be found here.

When applying a face covering, it is important that you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you should wash or sanitise your hands before removing the covering, using only the straps or ear pieces, and put it in a plastic bag for washing or safe disposal. You should then wash or sanitise your hands again. If you plan to re-use the face covering, it should be washed in soap or detergent first, at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric.

You can find more detailed instructions on how to wear and remove a face covering here.

Face coverings and psoriasis

If you feel that your face covering is irritating your psoriasis, you could try the following:

  • Make sure that the covering is made of a breathable fabric that your skin can tolerate. As with many aspects of psoriasis, this may be a process of trial and error.
  • Whilst the covering needs to be secure, make sure that it is not rubbing or causing injury to the skin as this could trigger psoriasis through Koebner’s phenomenon.
  • Keep your skin clean and well moisturised.
  • Wash the covering after each use with a detergent that doesn’t irritate your skin.
  • Try to take regular breaks from wearing the face covering.

  • For further information and advice on scalp or facial psoriasis, please do get in contact with us.

    Further information about COVID-19 for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be found here.

    Please note, this information was first published on 21st May 2020, and last updated on 3rd August 2020.

The Psoriasis Association is the UK's leading national charity and membership organisation for people affected by psoriasis – patients, families, carers and health professionals Read More >

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