Why fresh air is important to reduce the spread of COVID-19
18 May 2021
The ‘hands, face, space’ guidance for reducing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) was recently updated to include ‘fresh air’. This is because COVID-19 is an airborne transmitted virus, and research shows the risk of infection is significantly lower in well-ventilated spaces.
An infected person releases COVID particles into the air by coughing, talking and breathing. The risk of breathing in these droplets from someone else is much higher when indoors, as there is less air flowing to move the particles away.
Ventilation lets fresh air into indoor spaces and helps old, stale air out. COVID particles could stay floating in the air even after an infected person has left – unless the room is well-ventilated.
As 1 in 3 people with coronavirus have no symptoms, the best way to control the spread of the virus is to meet outdoors if possible. However, if you are sharing an indoor space with other people, keep everyone safe by opening a window and letting in fresh air.
How to keep indoor areas well-ventilated
More people are returning to workplaces and shops, attending appointments and meeting up with friends and family. Tradespeople and carers are already able to come into the home to do their jobs. From 17 May 2021, indoor seating at pubs and restaurants will be allowed, and groups of up to 6 people can meet in private homes.
There are lots of ways we can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 indoors when you are mixing with people from other households:
- Try not to meet people in spaces that do not get aired – for example rooms with no windows or with windows that are never opened.
- If you are going to be in a room with someone you don’t live with – open windows for a little while before, during and afterwards.
- Help the air flow by opening windows and doors at the front and the back of the building.
- Use vents, extractor fans and air conditioning if you have them.
- If you are going into your workplace, your manager should make sure it is safe for everyone. This may include making upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
- If you must travel in a vehicle with people you don’t live with – for example taxis, buses, trains or a lift with a friend or colleague – keep windows open, make the journey as short as possible and wear a face covering.
Remember: Hands. Face. Space. Fresh Air.
The following resources are available on the UK government’s website:
- Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus - information is available in different languages and easy read
- How to make your workplace COVID secure.
Page last updated 18 May 2021