Face coverings and wearing of gloves in food businesses explained

What is a face covering?

A face covering is not the same as a face mask. It is not classified as Personal Protective Equipment in health and safety terms which protect the user against hazards or risks, for example in medical settings by nurses and doctors.

‘In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth.’ (Face coverings: when to wear one and how to make your own. www.gov.uk 31 July 2020)

The wearing of a face covering has been introduced to protect other people around you from Covid 19. This is because many people are ‘asymptomatic’ or have no symptoms. It is important to remember that Covid 19 is a respiratory disease so can be passed on by talking, coughing, laughing etc. and a face covering which covers the mouth and nose can help reduce the transmission of the infection to others.

Where can I get a face covering?

You can make your own face covering https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering. Or you can buy a face covering that come in many different designs and colours and have become a bit of a fashion accessory!

How should face coverings be worn?

It is important that any face covering covers your mouth and nose and that it is washed regularly at 60C to destroy the virus. Remember to wash your hands before putting on or removing your face covering. Also not to touch your face when wearing a face covering.  If you wear a single use face covering these  thrown away after each use.

Who doesn’t need to wear a face covering?

The Regulations do not apply to children under 11 or people who have a reasonable excuse such as physical or mental impairment, to take medication or to eat or drink.

Do I have to wear a face covering when I go to a restaurant or pub?

No, as the regulations https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/791/made which came into force on 24 July 2020 do not require customers to wear face coverings in restaurants with table service (or bars and pubs).

However, some restaurants may put their own rules in place and ask you to wear one in communal areas or when you are not sat at your table. If you do not comply you may be asked to leave.

Do I have to wear a face covering when I buy a takeaway drink from my favourite coffee shop or deli?

Yes, but only if you are taking your drink away as the rules for shops apply here. If you are sitting down to eat or drink what you have bought then you can remove your face covering once you have ordered. The same applies in places like food courts.

Do my staff need to wear face coverings in the kitchen or front of house whilst at work?

No, again under the exemption in the regulations this is not required but if they want to then employers should allow this. Other measures such as installing barriers and screens, working back to back or in designated areas  should allow staff to work safely without wearing face coverings.

Do my staff need to wear gloves in the kitchen or front of house areas whilst at work?

No but again if they want to then employers should allow this. It is recommended that staff are discouraged from the wearing of gloves. It is thought that wearing gloves tends to give staff a false sense of security that they are now ‘safe’ and reduces the frequency of handwashing. And this is one of the important things that everyone can do to help reduce the passing on of Covid 19.

Customers may ask you why your staff aren’t wearing gloves, if this happens you could inform and educate them. Also you could display a sign ‘ Our staff are not wearing gloves as they are washing their hands more frequently than usual during the Covid-19 epidemic’.

It is recommended that gloves should only be used for specific activities such as preparing raw meat, cleaning, making allergen free food or handling rubbish. They should not be routinely worn in food businesses when preparing food.

What will happen if face coverings are not worn in relevant places like shops, post offices, banks etc. listed in the Regulations?

Fixed penalty notices may be issues by the police or others who enforce the regulations carrying a fine of up to £100

In Summary

Face coverings do not need to be worn in hospitality settings like restaurants with table service, bars and pubs by staff or customers, but can be worn as a personal choice.

Face coverings must be worn by customers in takeaway food shops but not by staff (unless they wish to do so as other measures to protect staff should be in place.)

Other useful notes

The places where members of the public will need to wear face coverings is being extended from 8th August 2020. However, guidance indicates that this will not include hospitality settings, if this changes this blog will be updated

In places where customers need to wear face coverings staff may not need to. This is because there should be a risk assessment in place and measures to protect staff including screens and barriers or the wearing of visors etc.

In areas of local lockdown these regulations may change and have different requirements than those required nationally.

If you would like any further advice regarding the wearing of face coverings or gloves please contact me at helen@foodsafetylogic.co.uk

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