How to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19

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  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell


  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Stay alert

We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you 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 (2 metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly

Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Face coverings

If you are going into a hospital, or into a GP practice in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, either as a patient or a visitor, you must now wear a face covering at all times. If you do not have a face covering, the hospital will provide one for you on arrival. You must also wear a face covering when travelling by public transport. This will help to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Face coverings are also mandatory in enclosed spaces including all shops and supermarkets. Exemptions to this include anyone under the age of 11, or those with disabilities, or hidden health conditions such as breathing difficulties, mental health conditions or autism. 

Face coverings are also mandatory in places such as nail, beauty and hair salons, barbers, cinemas, museums and many other places. The full list of places can be found here.

People are not required to prove they are exempt and it is for individuals to choose how they would want to communicate this to others. For those who would feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering, exemption cards are available to print or display on mobile phones.

Full guidance on face coverings can be found here

The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

It is important to note that a face covering is not the same as a facemask as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it.

The type of face covering the majority of the public need, can be something as simple as a scarf or a bandana or, you could make one at home – some simple instructions can be found here.

What is the new advice?

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature and/or change/loss to your usual sense of taste or smell) you and your household should isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this

  • When visiting a hospital or GP practice in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent as a patient or visitor you should wear a face covering at all times

  • When entering a shop or supermarket you should wear a face covering at all times. You will also need to wear a face covering in a lot of other places, such as nail, hair and beauty salons, barbers, cinema and museums. You will also need to wear a face covering in bars and restaurants when you are not seated. The full list of places can be found here
  • When travelling by public transport you must wear a face covering at all times
  • If you can, wear a face covering in other enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably
  • It is important to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and taking it off
  • Remember to put on your face covering before you enter the enclosed space
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them
  • Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
  • Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly for example primary school age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions
  • People who have problems breathing while wearing a face covering should not wear one
  • You do not need to wear face coverings if you are outdoors or while exercising