To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help prevent stigmatisation of people who are exempted from wearing a face covering under covid-19 lockdown restrictions when they are (a) using public transport and (b) visiting shops.
18 August 2020
This answer is a correction from the original answer.
The Government has provided clear guidance and communications on when and how to wear a face covering and will continue to communicate this guidance to the public and stakeholders as necessary over the coming months.
Messaging around exemptions is included as a key part of Government communications on when and how to wear a face covering. The Government also continues to engage with stakeholders and charities on the issue of exemptions to support these groups. In addition, the Government is running a major proactive communications campaign on face coverings to alert the public where they are now required to wear face coverings and educate the public on how to correctly wear one.
We are currently looking at ways in which we can support people who would be more comfortable to show they are exempt from the requirement to wear face covering, using some form of optional visual cue. Those who are exempt from the regulations will be permitted to go into supermarkets and shops without wearing a face covering.
People do not need to prove they have an exemption. Staff and employees are expected to act reasonably and not challenge people on why they are not wearing a covering.
Since Monday 8 June all National Health Service practices were able to start, at their own pace, seeing patients again once they have appropriate social distancing and other safety measures in place. Personal protective equipment (PPE) for dentists is being made available through their business as usual wholesalers. We have also set up new distribution routes for dentistry to ensure continuity of supply for all urgent dental care centres and have placed them on the list of priority areas to receive supplies from Local Resilience Forums. PPE for dental practices will include equipment necessary for aerosol generating procedures.
A risk assessment specifically relating to dentists using FFP2 instead of FFP3 respirators has not been made. Government guidance for dentists states that FFP3 respirators are advised for all aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) to prevent inhalation of aerosols. Some dental work is classed as AGPs. The Health and Safety Executive carried out a rapid review of the evidence of the effectiveness of FFP3, FFP2 and N95 masks earlier this year. The review stated that FFP2 and N95 respirators offer protection against COVID-19 and so may be used if FFP3 respirators are not available. Further information is available at the following link: