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‘Community Face Covering’ - What is it and why should you care?

If you’re not familiar with the term 'community face covering’ yet, you’ll no doubt be hearing it a lot over the coming years so here’s a useful summary of what it is and why you need to know. 

What is a Community Face Covering? 

A community face covering is essentially a face mask made for use in a non-medical ‘community’ setting. Throughout lockdown we’ve seen the introduction of rules for wearing face coverings in public places such as shops, public transport and even on beaches in Spain! The primary purpose for wearing masks in these settings has been to reduce the projection of respiratory droplets between people who are breathing, talking or coughing in non-socially distanced settings.  

The key difference with medical/PPE style face masks is that community face coverings should be reusable rather than single use.  

So what’s changed? Why are people talking about this now?  

The mandatory mask wearing rules led to a proliferation of sub-standard masks being worn by the general public many with negligible protection benefits. As such the European Commission became concerned enough to introduce a set of minimum standards and testing guidelines for non-PPE reusable face coverings to ensure that quality control is standardised in the same way as PPE face masks.  

These standards were published as “Centre for European Standardisation (CEN) Workshop Agreement” number CWA 17553:2020 in June 2020. Recently the British Standards Institute has adopted similar standards and published them as “BSI Flex 5555 Community Face Coverings”.  

So what are the most important points?  

The key points to note are that community face coverings must maintain a filtration level of at least 70% BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency) after 5 washes at 60 degrees.  

And to obtain compliance community face coverings must be tested to the appropriate standards and directives by an “Accredited Notified Body” such as Bureau Veritas. 

So what’s the ideal Community Face Covering?  

While many washable cloth face coverings may meet the 70% BFE target prior to washing, it is highly unlikely that they will still meet that level of filtration after washing. Cradle’s range of washable masks are the only community face coverings on the market to maintain a filtration level of over 96% even after 5 washes at 60 degrees (as verified by Bureau Veritas). This means our reusable masks meet even the higher FFP2 standard for medical PPE masks.  

And with our double protection self-sterilising mask offering both FFP2 level filtration and ‘ViralOff’ treatment to eliminate pathogens within two hours, we believe we have produced the ultimate in high protection reusable community face coverings!  

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