29 Jul 2020

Wightman & Parrish

A guide to face masks

The requirement for face masks has increased hugely in the past few months, but with different types needed in different settings, we lay out the facts about face masks and what is right for your environment.



In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings: 

  • public transport 
  • indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals) 
  • shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire) 
  • indoor shopping centres 
  • banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses) 

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave. 


You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet. 


Face coverings are also needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are advised to be worn in care homes. 


Surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks. However, these masks are costly, in limited supply, contribute to landfill waste and are uncomfortable to wear for long periods –  lower medical quality face masks can also contribute to reducing transmission of Covid-19. Analysis by the Royal Society said this included homemade cloth face masks. 


Face coverings 

Face coverings are mainly intended to protect others and not the wearer. Face coverings are not classed as personal protective equipment (PPE) as they: 

  • are generally not manufactured to a recognised standard and not CE marked 
  • do not provide a proven level of protection for work risks such as dust and spray
Surgical face masks 

Surgical face masks are designed to be normally worn in medical settings to limit the spread of infection. Wearing them should be very limited outside of healthcare activities because they are not generally considered to be PPE in non-healthcare situations. 

Unlike face coverings, they: 

  • are manufactured to a recognised standard 
  • are resistant to droplets of fluids and splashes 

Face Masks available from Wightman & Parrish

Medical Mask Type 11R Fluid Repellent 3 Ply Blue - 108549

This fluid resistant (Type 11R) surgical mask is recommended PPE for primary, outpatient, community and social care for NHS and independent sector workers. Also conforms to EN14683 which specifies construction, design, performance requirements and test methods for medical face masks intended to limit the transmission of infective agents from staff to patients during surgical procedures and other medical settings with similar requirements

108549 (1)

Face Mask Civilian 3 Ply - 108599

This mask can be worn when on public transport and in enclosed public spaces, as well as in schools, however it is not suitable for healthcare workers.

108599 (1)



Reusable Antibacterial Face Mask 100% Cotton - 108610

This double layer cotton mask can be worn when on public transport and in enclosed public spaces, as well as in schools, however it is not suitable for healthcare workers. It is antibacterial treated and tested according to ISO 20743. Also, due to it being reusable, it is more environmentally friendly.
108610 (1)


To view Wightman & Parrish’s range of reusable or disposable face masks, including 11R fluid repellent, medical face masks go to store.w-p.co.uk where you can order online if you have an account, or you can order by calling 01323 4455001 or emailing sales@w-p.co.uk