Coronavirus: Advice for hairdressers and beauticians to wear face shields doesn’t go far enough, scientists say

Face shields worn by some workers to stop the spread of coronavirus are “unlikely” to offer any protection against breathing it in, the government’s top scientists have said. 

In a meeting on 22 July, the experts called for official guidance to be updated to tell those often coming into close contact with customers to wear face coverings as well.

In the meeting notes, published on Friday, they pointed to an “anecdotal report” from a COVID-19 outbreak in Switzerland that suggested “those wearing face shields were more likely to be infected than those wearing masks”.

A splinter group of the government’s SAGE advisory panel known as the “Environment and Modelling Group” did say the shields would protect the wearer from “large droplets” and unlike masks also protect the eyes.

“However they are unlikely to provide any protection against inhalation of aerosols,” they said in a report from a meeting on 22 July, that has only been released today.

“Current evidence suggests that face shields are not an effective measure against airborne transmission,” it added.

Government advice says hairdressers, barbers, tattooists and those who work in spas and beauty salons “wear further protection in addition to any that they might usually wear”.

“This should take the form of a clear visor that covers the face and provides a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking,” the guidance continues.

“Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. It should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face.”

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