LONDON: The UK Government has advised members of the public to wear face coverings on public transport and stand side-to-side with others when outside to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
As it published new guidance on the easing of lockdown restrictions, the Government also suggested washing clothes regularly and keeping rooms well ventilated in a bid to prevent transmission.
Not all the guidance is new, however, and primary importance is still placed on washing hands regularly and keeping a safe distance from people from other households.
The Government’s new guidance suggests wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces such as shops or public transport where social distancing may not be possible.
The advice reads: “The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. “If you have symptoms of Covid-19 (cough and/or high temperature) you and your household should isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this.”
It adds that the recommended face coverings are not the same as the surgical masks used by healthcare staff and other workers.
“Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of two or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary school age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions,” the guidance continues.
“It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.”
“You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets released by someone talking or coughing when you are within 2m of someone and have face-to-face contact with them,” the advice states.
“You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing people.”
While washing hands is thought to have the most significant impact on removing traces of the virus, the Government’s new guidance says there is “some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics for a few days, although usually it is shorter”.
As a result, it recommends that those working with people outside their household regularly wash their clothes.
“Changing clothes in workplaces should only normally be considered where there is a high risk of infection or there are highly vulnerable people, such as in a care home,” it said. “If you need to change your clothes avoid crowding into a changing room.”
The guidance reads: “Evidence suggests that the virus is less likely to be passed on in well-ventilated buildings and outdoors.
“In good weather, try to leave windows and doors open in places where people from different households come into contact – or move activity outdoors if you can.”
It also recommends using external extractor fans and ventilation systems to “maximise the fresh air flow rate”.
“Heating and cooling systems can be used at their normal temperature settings,” it adds.
Those who are able to are encouraged to work from home, while those who are not are urged to avoid public transport when travelling in – instead walking or cycling wherever possible.
For those unable to do so, employers are encouraged to stagger working times to avoid busy periods on trains, buses and other modes of transport.
The Government is encouraging those that do have to go in to work to avoid being in close confines with colleagues.
It encourages employers to follow new guidance on allowing workers to maintain social distancing and efforts to increase hygiene such as regular cleaning of surfaces.
The Government’s guidance on handwashing remains consistent – urging people to wash their hands regularly with soap and hot water and dry them thoroughly.
It also continues to advise using hand sanitiser when entering or leaving buildings and after making contact with surfaces. People should avoid touching their faces, it adds.
The Government has maintained its guidance to keep a distance from others while outside. However, it says its previous suggestion of two metres distance was “not a rule and the science is complex”.
“The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact: you are very unlikely to be infected if you walk past another person in the street,” it says.
“The key thing is to not be too close to people for more than a short amount of time, as much as you can.”