This is a question a lot of people ask themselves and there is often confusion between what a face mask is and can do and what a face covering is for.
Face coverings are for use by the general public in places where people come into contact with other people. Face coverings intent to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Face masks are PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and have a high filtration rate to offer a higher level of protection.
Face masks are used in medical settings or by businesses.
We explain the difference between face masks and face coverings and when it is appropriate to use them.
What is the difference between a face mask and a face covering?
Face coverings are intended for use by the general public and are not PPE. This means they do not have to carry a CE mark and should not be sold or used as PPE. There is no regulation for homemade face coverings. If face coverings are made with the intent to sell or supply others they must meet the regulations of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR).
Surgical (medical) face masks:
Surgical masks are tested and certified to EN 14683:2019+AC:2019, like the Type IIR face masks from Home Shield Products. Surgical face masks are classified as, and have to comply with the regulations for class 1 medical devices.
Surgical face masks are intended to limit the transmission of viruses, bacteria and other infective agents. Surgical masks are intended to be a barrier to infection of others though they do offer limited protection to the wearer. Medical face masks are classified into two main types.
These masks should only be used by patients and other persons to reduce the risk of spread of infections particularly in epidemic or pandemic situations. Type I masks are not intended for use by healthcare professionals in an operating room or in other medical settings with similar requirements.
Type II and Type IIR:
These masks are mostly designed for use by healthcare professionals in an operating room or other medical settings with similar requirements. Type II is further divided according to whether or not the mask is splash resistant. The R signifies splash resistance. These products are certified under the European Medical Devices Regulation as a Class I device, so they must be CE marked based on the manufacturer’s self-declaration unless they are supplied as sterile. Home Shield Products face masks are Type IIR face masks to EN 14683:2019+AC:2019 and the face masks are tested and certified in the UK and MHRA approved.