Cloth face coverings, medical masks and disposable gloves

Wearing a cloth face covering is recommended in situations where it is difficult to practice social distancing. For example, in shops and on public transport. They may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others.

A cloth face covering is a material you wear that covers the nose and mouth.

Wearing a cloth face covering in public may reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community. It may help to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from people infected with coronavirus.

Cloth face coverings may help to stop people who are not aware they have the virus from spreading.


When to wear one

You may choose to wear a cloth face covering:

  • when staying 2 metres apart from people is difficult - for example, in shops, shopping centres or public transport
  • in an enclosed indoor space with other people

What they are made from

Cloth face coverings are made from materials such as cotton or silk.

You can buy them or make them at home using items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Who should not wear one

Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:

  • has trouble breathing
  • is unconscious or incapacitated
  • is unable to remove it without help
  • has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering

Do not criticise or judge people who are not able to wear a face covering.

Further information is available from the HSE website.