Face masks are set to become a part of every day life as lockdown restrictions lift and rules on coverings continue to come into force.
As well as on public transport, face coverings are now mandatory in all shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, transport hubs and post offices in England. These rules also extend to indoor settings where you're likely to come into contact with people you don't normally meet, including cinemas, museums, galleries and places of worship.
People who don't wear one will face a fine of up to £200, apart from those with certain medical conditions, children under 11 and those who lip-read. Fines will double each time someone is found to breach the rules and will increase to a maximum of £3,200.
In an announcement in the House of Commons on 22 September, the prime minister revealed that these rules will remain in place for six months in order to curb the rising coronavirus cases in England.
In Scotland, secondary school students have been obliged to wear a face covering in corridors, communal areas and on buses since Monday 31 August.
The government in England had previously said masks would not be necessary for schools from September. However, following pressure from unions, opposition parties and schools, the prime minister made an 11th-hour U-turn, announcing that from 1 September, staff and pupils in secondary schools in local lockdown areas like Manchester and Birmingham will be required to wear face coverings when moving around the building and in communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Masks will not be required in the classroom.
For other parts of the country, masks are not obligatory, but schools and sixth-form colleges will have the discretion to make them mandatory in communal areas should they feel it is necessary.
The Welsh government has left it up to councils to decide whether or not masks should be worn in schools.
In Scotland, it's compulsory to wear a face covering in shops and has been on public transport since June, except for people with certain medical conditions and children under five.
In Wales, face coverings are mandatory on public transport, including in taxis. The Welsh Government is also advising people to wear masks in crowded places where social distancing is not possible, but this is not compulsory.
In Ireland, face masks are compulsory in public transport and in shops, too.
Read on for more expert guidance on face coverings for kids, and for a selection of independent brands selling them.
What’s the age limit for children wearing face coverings?
The official guidance from the government's Covid-19 recovery strategy document explains that if your child is under the age of two, cannot put one on themselves, or has a respiratory condition, they don't need to wear a face covering at all.
All other children can wear one, but for those under the age of 11, it is not mandatory for them to wear a face covering on public transport.
The government was clear in its guidelines that face coverings are not the same as a face mask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers, and it reiterated that these supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that children aged 12 and over should wear face coverings, particularly if they cannot maintain at least a one-metre distance from other people and there is widespread transmission in their area.
When and where should they wear them?
As of 24 July, in England, face masks have been mandatory in all shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, post offices, takeaways and transport hubs. Since 15 June, the government has made face coverings compulsory on public transport.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also updated its guidance to recommend that governments ask everyone to wear fabric face masks in public areas where there is a risk of transmission of Covid-19, in order to help reduce the spread of the pandemic disease.
However, it has stressed that face masks are only one of a range of tools that can reduce the risk of viral transmission, and should not give a false sense of protection.
It's also important to note that while valves are a common sight in some face coverings, avoid buying a face covering with a valve, as they do very little. Marisa Glucoft, director of infection prevention Children’s Hospital Los Angeles explained why they're ineffective: “When you wear a mask with a valve, people around you are not protected because the valve lets all of your breath into the air.”
Where to buy face coverings for kids
Ahead we've rounded up some independent brands who are making their own masks for children.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Founded by mother-of-three Jo Bates, Thumbsie creates fabric gloves to help children to stop sucking their thumbs. It has since started to create fabric face masks for kids in light of the pandemic.
While you can’t buy individual masks due to the high demand, you can still buy its two or four mask packs. The packs are available in three sizes, S, M and L, and are suitable for children between three and 16. A pack of two is £18 and a pack of four is £35, and they are available in prints such as pirates, flamingos and superheroes.
Its masks are made from poly cotton and cotton and have an inner pocket so you can insert your own filter if you wish. The elastic straps are adjustable too.
This Midlands-based casual wear label has designed face coverings to buy, having diverted its manufacturing process to create a range of different styles for adults and children.
The masks come in two sizes, one for adults and one for children, and both are available in varying machine washable prints, such as camo and tie-dye, and can be bought individually or in packs of three starting from £9.99.
With elasticated ear loops and fabric made from polyester and elastane, some of the masks come with a built-in filter while others come without, we’re sure the funky prints will keep kids occupied long enough to keep them on. Plus, for some styles, all profits will go to the NHS to help key workers on the frontline.
In a surprising turn, stationery brand Vistaprint has manufactured a range of kids and adults face masks, costing £13 each.
There’s plenty of kid-friendly fabrics to choose from including colourful doodles, khaki green, baby pink, stripes, lightning bolts and hearts.
Every mask comes with a replaceable filter system that can be rewashed, a 100 per cent cotton anti-allergenic inner layer, a three-dimensional chin structure, adjustable straps and a nose bridge.
For every reusable mask bought, Vistaprint is also pledging to give 10 per cent of sales to local communities impacted by the pandemic.
You'll find adult and kids masks available in Rachel Riley’s signature prints of flowers, gingham and more.
Each one costs £19 and they are suitable for children aged three and above, and the same designs are available for adults, so you can match if you like. They are made with a cotton satin lining, polyester inner layer and cotton outer layer.
It will also be donating 10 percent of profits from the sales of its face masks to Best Beginnings, a UK charity that supports parents during pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood.
This indie US apparel brand has started making organic cotton face masks during the coronavirus crisis. Suitable for children aged between two and eight, the brand offers masks for adults too, and they are available to UK customers.
The masks are available in pink, blue, black or white and cost £17, however, if you buy two you get 20 per cent off, and if you buy four, you can get 25 per cent off.
Every mask is reusable and the brand recommends to wash it with soap and water before air drying or tumble drying on a low heat.
Made with two layers of a soft cotton blend fabric, Lancashire Textiles has made children's reusable protective face masks for £8.99 each.
There are three different prints to choose from: polka dots, stripes and gingham in pink and blue styles. Each one comes with elasticated straps to keep them in place.
For every mask sold, it is donating £1 to the East Lancashire NHS Trust too.