Face coverings and surgical masks do not protect the wearer and are not classed as personal protective equipment (PPE). The advice to Government is that face coverings may protect others if worn by a person that is infected and has not developed symptoms. Transmission of COVID-19 infection should be managed through social distancing, good hygiene (frequent cleaning and handwashing), ventilation, working in fixed teams or partnering.
The use of face coverings is a public health protection measure under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020. Government guidance for Offices and Contact Centres (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres) states ‘Face coverings are not mandatory in offices, although they are required for customers and staff in some businesses that are customer facing. Staff in these settings must wear face coverings when in areas that are open to the public and where they are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public, unless they have an exemption. People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.’