Most bizarre items wrongly being used as face masks

Now that facemasks have become mandatory in shops in England, many are finding novel ways to follow the government guidelines while using everyday items as face coverings.

UK based health and safety experts Protecting has been following the unlikely facemask style trend and has seen reports of people coming up with creative solutions to cover their faces.

Spokesman Mark Hall said: "I've seen people on the train wearing all sorts in place of your bog-standard facemask, such as scarves, bike helmets and even the odd carrier bag.

"But the lady wearing a clear plastic bucket over her head is as wild as it's been."

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Wearing a face covering is now mandatory in shops, five weeks after they became mandatory on public transport.

Face masks became compulsory in stores from Friday

More people will have to get used to wearing a face covering in order to go about their daily duties, leading to innovative results.

Protecting asked people what they were using for face masks now that they need to be worn in shops and on public transport.

These were some of the replies they received:

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"I went as Spiderman last Halloween and I've still got the mask. I'll be ready to do the weekly shop and fight crime if required."

"My wife booked us a caravan away in a couple of weeks, think I'll save on the packing and just wrap my beach towel around my head if I need to pop into any shops."

"Used to earn extra money as a mascot for a kids football team, and I'm tempted to wear the costume to my local shopping centre and see how people react."

A young girl wearing a face mask

"We just finished unpacking from moving to a new house and there’s loads of bubble wrap laying around, it would be a shame not to repurpose it."

"Bought a gas mask years ago for a Doctor Who cosplay and it's functional so why not make good use of it?"

"Had a bit of a wardrobe clear-out during lockdown, so will be putting my old bras to good use as makeshift masks for my husband and I."

"Gimp mask. Don't act so shocked, there's a community of us out there."

Mark said: "There's a whole world of items you could use as a face covering, but just because you can wear it, it doesn't mean you should wear it.

"I'm no prude, but gimp masks are not something that should see the light of day in a civilised society, and I very much doubt that you could breathe through a beach towel or bubble wrap."

Another consideration are the official health and safety guidelines which have been put in place for the safety of face mask wearers.

The guidelines call for your mouth and nose to be efficiently covered, so long as you can still comfortably breathe, and that the face covering is secure to your head.

Mark said: "People need to remember that when putting on and removing masks, they need to wash their hands thoroughly, and dispose or wash the mask depending on whether it’s single use or not."

Protecting also emphasise that wearing face coverings does not make you exempt from social distancing measures, as these are all guidelines that need to be practiced together to reduce the risk of Covid-19.

Creative alternatives for face coverings may also not always be the best solution, as a few people have already found out.

One man said he thought his motorbike helmet with the visor down would be fine, until he was asked to leave the train station.

He said: "I'd hoped wearing it would make me seem cool and aloof like The Stig, but in reality it meant I couldn't get on the train and was late to work."

UK waste management company BusinessWaste have the following advice:

You should wash and reuse cloth face coverings to prevent and reduce waste.

Remove PPE carefully, and avoid touching the inside of your face covering.

After you remove your PPE or face covering, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser.

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If you need to throw away used face coverings or PPE, such as gloves:

Dispose of them in your 'black bag' waste bin at home or at work, or a litter bin if you're outside

Do not put them in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities.

Take them home with you if there is no litter bin – do not drop them as litter.