Updated 30 March 2021

On campus, wearing a face covering is now essential in most locations. Face coverings should cover both your mouth and nose. 

When it’s essential to wear a face covering:

  • Walking around campus  - especially when transiting between buildings
  • Cafes and welfare spaces
  • Lecture theatres and teaching rooms
  • Informal study and breakout areas
  • Libraries
  • Move Imperial facilities
  • Halls of residence 
  • Travelling on public transport 
  • In shops

Putting your face covering on and taking it off when moving between spaces adds the risk of touching your face - so if you happen to be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, there is the potential for you to contaminate surfaces. Washing your hands or using hand sanitiser immediately after handling your face covering is therefore necessary.

When it's not essential to wear a face covering:

Only when you are able to maintain social distancing of at least two metres. This might include:

  • When leaving our campuses
  • Going outside for a break and maintaining social distancing of at least two metres
  • Laboratories (local arrangements for personal protective equipment will be in place. If you wear a face covering, it must be a disposable type)
  • Workshops (local arrangements will be in place)
  • Offices - when you can maintain social distancing of at least two metres, if you can't - you must wear a face covering

For laboratories and other high-risk areas please refer to the local risk assessments for exact requirements and whether the use of a disposable face covering is required. Face coverings are not personal protective equipment.  

Three illustrations showing the effect of wearing face coverings. Description in the caption.
When no one wears a face covering, we spread COVID-19. When you wear a face covering, you protect me. When everyone wears a face covering, we protect each other.

Visors and face coverings

You may be required to wear a face visor in some places in addition to a face covering. The most likely places are in teaching rooms where it’s difficult to maintain a distance of two metres. Departments will advise you of when it’s necessary to wear a face visor and how to get one.

In addition, in some specific cases as advised by departments, lecturers may wear a visor only (without a face covering) when teaching. 

Reusable face coverings are not suitable for use in laboratory areas. If 2 metres social distancing in a lab cannot be guaranteed, a risk assessment must be conducted. The risk assessment must consider whether the use of face visors and face covering has the potential to introduce additional risks to the work environment.

If you cannot wear a face covering

Some people will be exempt from wearing a face covering due to a physical or mental illness, or disability. If you are exempt, please visit the Hidden Disabilities webpage (log in required).

Making your own face coverings

There are a number of useful websites, with easy to follow directions, demonstrating how to make various styles of washable face coverings which can be worn when social distancing cannot be guaranteed. A selection can be accessed from the links below:


View Estates and Safety frequently asked questions about safety on campus.