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Advice on face coverings and social distancing from Sandwell’s director of public health

Sandwell Council’s director of public health is reminding people to follow new rules on wearing face coverings which become compulsory on public transport from Monday (15 June).

And Lisa McNally said it is also advisable to wear a face covering in any busy indoor areas such as shops.

She urged people to still follow social distancing guidance and wash their hands regularly even if they wear a face covering out in public.

While the evidence suggests that face coverings do not protect the person wearing them from coronavirus (Covid-19), they do provide some protection for others if the wearer has the virus but hasn’t realised it.

Lisa McNally said:

“Social distancing is still the most important thing people can do to help prevent the spread of the virus. Good handwashing is also essential.

“A face covering does not provide the wearer with enough protection to go safely closer than two metres to others.

“So, I would urge everyone to keep your distance from others and practice good hygiene at all times.”

National guidance says people should wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is more difficult – in particular for short periods in places where people may come into contact with others they do not normally meet, for example in some shops.

In some clinical settings, such as outpatients or going to see the GP, people may be asked to wear a face covering or have a face mask provided.

From Monday (15 June), people must wear a face covering on public transport. They should be prepared to remove their face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

The date coincides with non-essential retailers being allowed to reopen provided they have taken steps to ensure social distancing.

An easy guide to how to make your own face covering is available on the BBC’s website. There is also advice on how to make a face covering on the Government’s website at

Lisa McNally added:

"Remember that face coverings will be compulsory on public transport from Monday (15 June). Wearing one may not protect you, but it could help protect others if you have coronavirus but don't realise it.”

People can make their own face coverings at home with a scarf or bandana that ties behind their head – the main thing is it covers your mouth and nose and allows you to breathe comfortably.

To safely wear a face covering, people should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and taking it off, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth at all times, and wash it after every use.

When taking the face covering off, do not touch the part that has been in contact with the nose or mouth. Used face coverings should be stored in a plastic bag until they can be washed.

Face coverings are not the same as face masks, which should be worn by frontline workers who come into close contact with others.

Residents are reminded they must continue to follow social distancing guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Everyone must:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out
  • Wash your hands regularly

Stay at home and self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of Covid-19, including a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Anyone, irrespective of age, should be tested if they have symptoms of Covid-19. The test is most effective within one to three days of symptoms developing and should be carried out in the first five days.

For more information, and to apply for a test, please go to or if you do not have access to the internet, please call 119. All appointments must be booked in advance.

Anyone in Sandwell who tests positive for Covid-19 will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to isolate and share information about people that have been close contacts recently.

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at

There’s also lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS at

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