'Is it just a Sheffield thing?' - Priest fumes after used face masks dumped across city

A Sheffield priest has expressed his disgust at the used face masks he sees discarded on the city’s streets.

Father Ian Maher, who is a minor canon at Sheffield Cathedral, spoke out on Twitter, writing: “I wish people would stop dropping used facemasks on the pavement. Disgusting. Is it just a Sheffield thing? I suspect not.”

His comment clearly touched a nerve, generating more than 250 responses and 1,800 likes.

Face coverings are compulsory on public transport, in shops and at many other venues in England

Most of those responding shared his disappointment but agreed that it was certainly not ‘just a Sheffield thing’, with face coverings seemingly being left strewn on the ground across England and abroad.

One person said levels of litter were ‘through the roof’ in their seaside village, another said he had seen lots of discarded masks while walking in the Peak District, and a third person said that in Surrey used gloves and masks ‘are the new poo bags’.

They do things differently in some parts of Europe though, with one person commenting: “In Italy there's bio hazard bins dotted pretty much everywhere to collect used face masks and gloves. I think it'd be great to have them in the UK too. Maybe it would encourage good behaviour.”

People also described how they had seen wearers removing their masks to sneeze or to sniff produce at supermarkets.

Face coverings are now mandatory on public transport, at shops and in many other settings across England, from libraries and places of worship to hair salons and cinemas.

Sheffield’s director of public health, Greg Fell, has said that while face coverings can help to prevent the spread of Covid-19, not using one properly is worse than not using one at all.

Your mouth and nose must be covered, he says, and people should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before putting them on and after removing them, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth at all times.

If you’re using a reusable one it should be stored in a plastic bag until you can wash it, while disposable masks should be placed in a bin after use.