The government announcing today that face coverings will be compulsory for travelling on public transport from June the 15th raises a number of questions that leave consumers in the dark regarding the type of mask to buy, and particularly, what all the technical jargon surrounding face masks means.
In yesterday's Coronavirus briefing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made the following statement:
"I can announce that, as of Monday 15 June, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport.
But broadly, as we come through this phase, we’re doing what many other countries have asked transport users to do.
And as passenger numbers increase, and we expect this trend to continue, we need to ensure every precaution is taken, on buses, trains, aircraft and ferries.
With more people using transport, the evidence suggests that wearing a face-covering offers some – albeit limited – protection against the spread of the virus.
A face covering helps protect our fellow passengers. It is something that we can each do to help each other"
For many people that don't work in the healthcare sector, the jargon is meaningless so we've put together a little explainer below that will help you make an informed choice when you purchase a mask.
There are several points to understand before we talk about levels of filtration and they are 'Disposable', 'Reusable' 'Full-Face' and 'Half-Face'.
- Disposable masks you throw away after the recommended number of uses.
- Reusable masks have filters that you replace after the recommended number of uses.
- Full-Face masks are the ones you see operatives in films like 'Contagion' wearing and aren't required at all in the current conditions.
- Half-Face are the masks we sell and that the majority of manufacturers in the UK sell because they are the most efficient and effective as they usually feature filters you can change.
Our second set of criteria is about the level of particle filtration a mask has, and what type of particles it filters out. We're really only concerned with one level during the current pandemic, one that will protect you from 99.99% of all airborne particles.
It's called P3 and it protects you against 99.99% of all airborne particles including bacteria and what are called aerosol particles which are those delivered from a cough or sneeze.
Another good feature to have is a respirator which serves two purposes, firstly it stops the mask clogging up with airborne particles like dust and secondly if you wear glasses or goggles (motorcyclist or similar) it'll stop them misting up, which might be helpful as traffic starts to increase again.
Whilst all our masks fit the above criteria we recommend our Stealth Everyday Lite FFP3 (FF is the EU's designation for 'filtering facepiece') for daily use as it offers the ultimate protection whilst travelling and shopping. Plus, it's the most cosmetically attractive of our masks and is available in Black or White.