Types of face coverings, masks and visors

Face coverings, masks and COVID-19

A face covering is a material you wear that covers your nose and mouth. Wearing one helps stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), especially from people who don’t know they have the virus.

Cloth face coverings

Cloth face coverings are the type of face coverings most people should wear in public.

They are usually made from cotton or silk and should have at least 2 layers of fabric.

Medical face masks


Medical face masks are the common blue disposable masks that are widely available.

Wear a medical face mask if you are at higher risk of getting seriously ill if you get COVID-19. They give you better protection.

You should also wear a medical face mask at home if you:

  • are self-isolating
  • are living with or caring for someone who has COVID-19

Dispose of a medical face mask after you wear it once. You should not wash or reuse them.

Read more about what to do if you live with other people and you are self-isolating

Visors and face shields

Visors are not the best option for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19.

They should only be worn if you have an illness or impairment that makes wearing a face covering difficult.

Face coverings with valves or vents

Do not wear a face covering if it has a valve or vent.

These types of face coverings are not good for reducing the spread of the virus. This is because you could breathe in or breathe out the virus through the valve or vent.

They are normally used by construction workers or tradesmen to protect against dust. They are not designed to stop the spread of a virus.

Do not wear face coverings with a valve or vent as they are not effective against COVID-19
Face coverings with valves or vents do not protect you from COVID-19