Trading Standards warn against misleading face mask claims

Traders in Oxfordshire are being warned not to sell low-tech face coverings as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or make claims they provide protection against COVID-19.

Face masks and coverings have become a regular part of life for many people in Oxfordshire.

Since the relaxing of lockdown laws, the wearing of face coverings has become mandatory on public transport and within hospitals and is also strongly recommended in public spaces like supermarkets and shopping centres.

These new requirements have obviously seen an increase in consumer demand – with many locals ‘cashing in’ by making and selling their own masks or on-selling masks they purchase in bulk from a wholesaler.

Head of Trading Standards for Oxfordshire County Council, Jody Kerman, comments:

“Now that it is a legal requirement to wear face coverings in some settings, and general best practice to wear them in enclosed public places, there is naturally an increased demand from the public for these items. We have quickly seen some enterprising individuals making these products and selling them, particularly via social media.”

Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards have a strong warning for anyone selling face masks – whether that be in store, on a website or on social sites like Facebook Marketplace.

Whether the masks are handmade or purchased from a wholesaler before being offered for sale to the public – the same Trading Standards legislation applies to the sale of ‘face coverings’ and ‘face masks.’

Kerman further explains:

“Legislation has always existed in relation to items that come into contact with the skin and we appreciate that any new producers might not be aware of what is required. That is why we have put together a dedicated page on our website which provides all the information needed in one place.”

In short, the information provided outlines that anyone selling masks must clearly adhere to certain rules and ensure that:

  • There are no claims made on the product labelling and marketing about any level of personal protection from COVID-19.
  • There are no hazards associated with this type of product including strangulation, suffocation, choking, sharp points or rough edges.
  • The fabric used does not shed fibres that may be inhaled.
  • The material used is suitable to be worn against the skin and does not contain dye with chemicals containing harmful content that could be ingested.
  • That the product or packaging has sufficient traceability information including the name and address of the producer.
  • That no registered trademarks or designs are used without consent.

Trading Standards is regularly monitoring online sites and will be actively engage with sellers to ensure any face coverings are safe and legal.

Anyone involved in making or selling face coverings should in the first instance visit:

Follow-up advice can be requested by contacting Trading Standards on 01865 895999 (Option 2) or email

Photo by Bára Buri on Unsplash

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