Face coverings

Updated 13 November 2020

Government guidelines around the use of face coverings change frequently and we will review and update this page in line with them.

What is a face covering?

A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. The Government states that this includes a reusable or single-use covering (now sold in many shops and online) or could include a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering so long as this fits securely round the side of your face.

What is the current University position on face coverings?

Face coverings must be worn all the time (including when seated) in the following areas:

  • Teaching space (providing the use of face covering does not impact teaching and learning);
  • libraries and study spaces;
  • the Refectory and all other University catering outlets;
  • main internal communal areas on campus (e.g. corridors, social spaces);
  • all main, public indoor areas in University residences (e.g. reception, corridors, stairs, lifts and toilets) but not inside the flats themselves. If there is an exception for a social space, signage will tell you so;
  • all places of worship on campus;
  • NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings such as GP surgeries.

2m social distancing and hand washing are still vitally important in these areas and signage is in place.

In other internal areas, (such as laboratories and office spaces) provided 2m social distancing is in place, you are not required to wear a face covering – although you are welcome to wear one if you choose to.

In a small number of activities/ areas, local risk assessments have identified the need for face coverings or additional PPE. This will be clearly communicated by line managers/ academic supervisors and specific signage.

When outdoors on campus, you do not need to use face coverings. Should you feel that social distancing may be difficult and you will come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, you can of course choose to wear a face covering.

What is the difference between a surgical face mask, PPE face mask and face covering?

To find out more about the differences between surgical face masks, PPE face masks, and face coverings see the Health and Safety Executive information.


You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. A list of people who are exempt can be found in the Government information.

If you would like to consider an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign, you will be supported by the University to do so. Exemption cards are available from Health and Safety Services, Student Information Points and LUU reception.

Face covering provision

Many people will already have a face covering as they are now needed in so many other locations. You can get them from shops, supermarkets and online, or you can make your own.

Free face coverings and face shields are available from the following campus locations by showing a staff or student card and sharing some basic details.

  • Student information points:
    • Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building – Student Counter
    • Disability Services Reception – Chemistry West
    • Maurice Keyworth Reception
    • Worsley Level 7.09
  • Security office
  • LUU Information Desk
  • Residences: All University residence front desks will hold a stock
  • Sport and Physical Activity
    o The Edge Front Reception (currently closed until 2 December)

FAQs for staff

Can I wear a face shield (visor) for learning/ teaching activities?

You must now wear a face covering in teaching space (providing this does not impact on teaching and learning). If you feel a face covering will impact on learning/ teaching or if you are exempt from wearing one, you may use a face shield (which enables your students to see your mouth and can help with communication). These are available to collect from the same campus locations providing face coverings (see below).

Can I wear a face shield (visor) for other roles?

For people serving in a café or working on a reception desk, where communication is key, face shields can be supplied if required. These are available from the same locations providing face coverings (see below).

What if I need to remove my face covering to communicate with people?

There may be roles where the use of face coverings creates additional problems, such as communicating with people. There are a number of circumstances where you can remove your face covering, for example if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. To support this, social distancing measures are in place across activities.

What do I do if I think someone should be wearing a face covering?

There is helpful guidance on how to deal with this kind of situation on the digital practice pages.  However please remember that not everyone is required to wear a face covering. It is important to be kind and mindful of this and know that the reasons for exemption may not always be visible.

Process for distribution of free face coverings

  1. Health and Safety Services are managing the distribution of free face coverings and face shields, and will send these out to the distribution locations.
  2. Each person collecting a free face covering or shield will be asked to complete brief details through a form for their name, staff/ student number (from their valid University of Leeds staff/ student card), date and distribution location.
  3. When stocks become low the lead person for each location will contact safety@leeds.ac.uk
  4. If a staff group is restarting work on campus, and requires a larger quantity, the head of school / service or line manager should contact safety@leeds.ac.uk

Further information

It is important to remember that wearing a face covering is just one of the range of measures – including social distancing and frequent hand washing – that we should all take to help keep everyone safe. If you have any concerns about face coverings, please speak to your line manager / academic tutor.