DISCARDED face masks are becoming an increasing problem in Ludlow and could be dangerous if they are picked up

Andy Boddington, Shropshire councillor for Ludlow North says that the single use masks are being dropped onto roads and pavements and shoved into hedges by unthinking people in the town.

“Dropping a face mask in a residential street could lead to it being picked up by a child wanting to play with it,” said Mr Boddington, who wants people to stop using throw away masks.

“If a mask is dropped accidentally, its owner should pick it up. Better still people should wear reusable, washable face masks.”

Just in the UK alone, 24.7 billion masks are needed a year according to the Plastic Waste Innovation Hub at University College London.

Researchers are warning that coronavirus face masks could be an environmental disaster that might last generations.

“I will only wear a disposable mask myself if I have forgotten one of my reusable masks,” Mr Boddington added.

“But usually I put the reusable mask around my neck first thing in the morning. I regard it as essential as putting on my trousers or wearing a hat.

“Face masks are also becoming fashionable – a bit like the leggings of the 1980s inspired by the musical Fame. And the masks are washed just like any other clothing.”

It is mandatory to wear masks on public transport and in shops unless the person concerned has an exemption.

They must also be worn at visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas).

However, the Government says that there is no evidence that wearing a mask will protect someone from getting the virus but if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.

Masks do not remove the need for social distancing and the hand washing.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment.

Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of three or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly.