As it is now compulsory to wear a face covering in supermarkets and shops across England, our GP is sharing some timely guidance on how to use face masks properly.

Dr Karl Braine, is concerned many people have been left confused by the inconsistent messaging about masks from central Government and differing advice in England, Scotland and Wales.

He’s highlighting the issue in a bid to ensure people protect themselves as effectively as possible as the nationwide lockdown continues to ease.

Dr Braine said: “While the timing of this announcement and the delay in implementing it is rather perplexing, at least we now have some clarity as to what is expected of us all and we will all become liable for £100 fines if the guidance is not followed.

“During such a viral and unpredictable pandemic, we must take responsibility to reduce infection rates, which includes protecting others from your potentially infectious droplets.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) says masks can provide a barrier for potentially infectious droplets in areas where distancing is not possible and encourages governments to recommend their usage when social distancing is not possible.

“We are starting to see increasing reports from around the world where the use of face coverings is helping reduce further outbreaks of the virus, so we urge everyone to follow government guidelines and wear a mask indoors when social distancing is impractical, or in crowded areas, such as public transport and shops.”

Dr Braine has also addressed some of the concerns and misconceptions raised about wearing masks, including people worried about breathing issues.

He added: “While wearing a mask might feel uncomfortable or unnatural, there is no evidence to support that wearing one will limit the amount of oxygen getting to your body.

“Front-line staff have been wearing medical-grade PPE for months now and there have been no reports of masks reducing your ability to breathe.

“It is recommended you do not wear a mask while in your personal vehicle or while exercising and it’s important you dispose of your mask after each use, or wash reusable masks when they get damp.

“Adequate social distancing and hand hygiene is still the most effective way to eliminate the chances of catching the virus and if you suffer symptoms, you should still self-isolate at home.”

Our GP services operate across the Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, and we can issue exemption certificates in exceptional cases but Dr Braine says the vast majority of people will be fine wearing masks and face coverings.

He said: “The only situations where a mask is not advised are with children under 11, people with significant respiratory conditions or those who would find them too difficult to use.

“However, for most people it remains a simple and safe measure to adopt.”

If you have concerns and would like to speak to a doctor, call us on 01451 600900.