Residents across the Isle of Wight have reported a rise in the number of discarded disposable masks being found along the Islands streets and natural areas since new rules were introduced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
The use of facemasks and face coverings has been one of the more pivotal, and controversial, measures brought in by the Government in response to the increased infection rate of coronavirus experienced in the Summer of 2020.
Anyone heading to an inside public space such as a shop or supermarket, hospital or school, is required to wear a face-covering by law – unless they have an exemption. Despite the availability of reusable and washable face coverings, many are still choosing to use disposable masks, which are designed to be thrown away after their use.
Sadly, however, many masks are being inappropriately discarded in public places such as streets and natural areas – not only contributing to littering but also potentially a public health issue due to the risk of a person coming into contact with coronavirus by touching the littered mask.
Many Island Echo readers have expressed their disgust at the number of masks seen to be strewn through bushes and grass in countryside areas – with others reporting sightings in coastal locations such as beaches.
It comes just days after Natural England’s refresh of the Countryside Code, which promotes the responsible disposal of litter.
Official guidance is for disposable masks to be worn once and subsequently discarded properly in the nearest bin.