Face coverings: guidance for patients and visitors

As of Monday 15th June, face coverings must be worn when attending the practice. You may be refused entry if you do not wear a scarf, face mask or some other sort of appropriate face covering. Please see attached guidance:

From 15 June, we are asking patients and visitors to wear a face covering at all times when visiting our surgery, or services we provide in the community. Patients and visitors may also wear a face mask if they choose, but a face covering is sufficient.

Wearing a face covering (or mask) will help to limit the spread of Covid-19, and protect others from the virus.

For the face covering to be effective, please be aware that:

  • It should cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breath comfortably
  • You should wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and taking it off
  • When wearing the face covering, you should avoid touching your face at all times
  • You should also follow other infection control safety measures when visiting our hospitals, including social distancing and regular hand washing

For safety reasons, the following groups do not need to wear a face covering when visiting our hospitals:

  • Young children under the age of 2
  • Anyone with breathing or developmental difficulties
  • An unconscious person
  • Anyone who experiences genuine discomfort or distress while wearing a face mask
  • Pregnant women who have gone into labour
  • Anyone unable to remove their mask without assistance

We would like to thank patients and visitors in advance for wearing a face covering or mask when using our services. This is an additional measure we have put in place to help everyone stay safe. The most important thing people can do is to observe social distancing, and wash their hands regularly – however, the wearing of a face covering or mask will reduce the risk of infection even further.

Children and babies

Face coverings should not be worn by babies or young children under the age of 3, due to risk of oxygen deprivation. For children over 3 but under the age of 11, the wearing of a mask is not mandatory. These measures are in place for the following reasons:

  • Babies and young children have smaller airways so breathing through a mask is harder for them
  • Masks increase risk of rebreathing exhaled CO2, which we know can be fatal for infants or young children
  • Babies are unable to remove the mask should they have trouble breathing, causing increased risk of suffocation
  • Wearing a mask could increase the risk of baby overheating
  • Infants could be at risk of becoming tangled, especially if they try to remove a mask, potentially causing serious injury
  • Older infants or young toddlers are not likely to keep the mask on and will touch their face more to try and remove it

You can find the latest government advice on the following links:

Why face coverings are a risk for babies and young children

Just because face coverings are sold for babies and children, it does not mean they are safe or recommended. There are no regulatory standards for these products.

The government’s advice has recently been updated. The latest advice warns against the use of face coverings for children under 3 (previously children under 2 yrs). Children under 11 are exempt from mandatory wearing of face coverings in all settings.

Babies and young children are not miniature adults, and there are differences in their development and the way a child’s body functions. Understanding how a child’s body functions at varying ages and stages makes a difference in caring for your child, including decisions around keeping them safe.

From the moment a child is born, babies breathe mostly through their nose up to six months of age. This is why it is so important to keep them on their backs while sleeping and keep blankets, toys or other fabric away from their noses and mouth, including face coverings.

Babies wiggle and move while they sleep, and any compromise to the baby’s nose will cause the baby’s airway to be blocked, meaning not enough oxygen can enter their lungs or carbon dioxide leave their bodies.

If a baby or young child is wearing a face mask, the risk of re-breathing exhaled carbon dioxide is increased, putting babies at higher risk of SIDS, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Most children over 11 and adults are able to regulate and process their breathing and CO2 levels more efficiently.

For further useful information, please use the following links: