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COVID-19: government issues clear face masks to aid communication

Resource will support patients who rely on visual rather than verbal cues
Woman wearing a clear mask

Resource will support patients who rely on visual rather than verbal cues

Nurses will soon have access to clear face masks to help them communicate with people who rely on reading facial expressions.

Thousands of the masks will be delivered to NHS trusts and social care providers in the UK in the coming weeks, the government has announced.

Clear face masks will help break down barriers to communication

The 250,000 clear face masks have been ordered to support communication with people who have learning disabilities, autism, dementia or hearing loss, as well as foreign language speakers and their interpreters, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resource will support patients who rely on visual rather than verbal cues


Picture: ClearMask

Nurses will soon have access to clear face masks to help them communicate with people who rely on reading facial expressions.

Thousands of the masks will be delivered to NHS trusts and social care providers in the UK in the coming weeks, the government has announced.

Clear face masks will help break down barriers to communication

The 250,000 clear face masks have been ordered to support communication with people who have learning disabilities, autism, dementia or hearing loss, as well as foreign language speakers and their interpreters, during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Jonathan Beebee. Picture: Chris Balcombe

RCN Learning Disability Nursing forum chair Jonathan Beebee welcomed the introduction of the new masks, stating that some individuals rely more on body language, such as smiles, rather than verbal communication.

‘It will be reassuring for some people with learning disabilities to be able to see people’s mouths,’ he added.

Product details for the masks

The face mask, manufactured by US-based company ClearMask, is:

  • Single use only.
  • Latex-free.
  • Anti-fog.
  • Recommended for use indoors at room temperature in ventilated, low-humidity environments.
  • Not intended to filter.

Government aims to supply masks when required

Minister for care Helen Whately said the clear face masks will help overcome the difficulties people who rely on lip-reading have faced with traditional personal protective equipment.

‘If this proves a success, I look forward to increasing the supply to make sure whenever a clear mask is needed, there is one available,’ she added.

Allocation and distribution of clear masks is underway

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is working with devolved administrations in the UK to plan allocation of the masks to NHS trusts and social care providers. 

The first delivery has already been distributed to trusts, with further deliveries expected over the next few weeks.

Social care providers will also be able to access the masks through a new pilot system with Local Resilience Forums.


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