Behavioural science advice to help people wear face masks safely and consistently

The UK government (in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland but not Wales) has recommended that people wear face coverings in enclosed indoor spaces where social distancing is more challenging for example in public transport or shops (see They are not currently recommended for use outdoors, when exercising or in workplaces or schools, nor for children under 2 years or for those with respiratory conditions (

Face coverings should not be used by people with COVID-19 symptoms who should stay at home and self-isolate but they can help to reduce the risk of the mask wearer transmitting infection to others when they are non-symptomatic as shown below:

with permission from

However, there are also some potential risks:

  • infection as a result of touching the mouth, nose or eyes with hands during use.
  • infection of surfaces that the mask touches.
  • perceptions of lower personal risk of infection and therefore lower adherence to preventative behaviours.
  • difficulties in communicating with others, particularly for people with hearing loss.

Ensuring that people use masks and face coverings safely is therefore very important.

We have created a one page document that uses techniques from behavioural science that help people to use masks as safely as possible. This is available to download from:

If you would like advice about how to help design strategies and communications to promote COVID-19 preventative behaviours for your organisation or business then please get in touch with us by emailing: