Greater awareness is needed on adopting a UK safety standard for face coverings to put the public’s mind at rest as the economy reopens after the COVID-19 lockdown.
In recent months, the Manchester-headquartered Vita Group has pivoted its production lines to start manufacturing high-quality, washable, and reusable face coverings. While designing this product Vita discovered how little standardisation or guidance existed on what constitutes a high-quality face covering across Europe and the UK.
The Vita Group, which has over 70 years’ experience, is a leader in developing accredited products across a range of end markets, which already includes a number of medical and healthcare-related applications. Vita’s face coverings have undergone rigorous testing and provide 90% Bacteria Filtration Efficiency (BFE), exceeding the current standard of 70% BFE.
On the 17th June 2020, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) published the workshop agreement on community face coverings which sets out minimum requirements, methods of testing and use. The UK is a CEN member, but has yet to announce its position on the implementation of a national standard regarding face coverings. This has resulted in a large variance in the quality, effectiveness and safety of the products which are on sale to the general public.
In addition, the recent reduction of social distancing from 2 metres to 1 metre and the planned re-opening of hospitality and leisure businesses across the UK, means that people will be coming into closer contact with each other, further elevating the importance of face coverings to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Clarifying the UK’s position on face covering standards will help to ensure consistency and reassurance for members of the public as they seek to protect themselves and others in offices, shops, bars, restaurants, and on public transport.
Ian Robb, CEO of The Vita Group, said: “Clarity on the standards for face coverings is needed to enable the public to make informed decisions on how they are able to protect themselves and the wider community from the transmission of COVID.
“Awareness will give people peace of mind as they return to shops, offices and schools and social distancing measures are relaxed. People need to know what the key measurements of safety and quality are in face coverings, who makes them, and how long you can use one before it is time to change or wash it.
“We would encourage and welcome the implementation of a national standard, in line with the CEN workshop agreement on face coverings. I urge the UK to take action in order to give people the best chance of selecting a face covering that protects their own health as well as others’ so that they can get on with going about their daily lives.”
Further information about the Vita Shield face mask can be found here: www.thevitagroup.com/vita-shield-face-covering