Home EU-CEN Releases Industry Guidance for Community Face Coverings.

EU-CEN Releases Industry Guidance for Community Face Coverings.

Press Release: September 16, 2020

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has released a Workshop Agreement, CWA 17553:2020, offering industry guidance for reusable fabric face coverings.


CWA 17553:2020 – ‘Community face coverings – Guide to minimum requirements, methods of testing and use’, covers face coverings that are not normally within the scope of relevant personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical device regulations. This guidance document fills that gap, providing minimum requirements for reusable or disposable community face coverings and materials intended for the general public. It covers both adults and children (aged 3-12, when supervised by an adult).


Critical requirements include:

  • Design: dimensions, adult and child sizing, material selection
  • Markings: instructions for use and cleaning, filtration level, and intended user
  • Cleaning requirements: reusable products shall withstand claimed number of wash cycles (at least 5) with a minimum washing temperature of 60°c.
  • Performance: durability, particle filtration and breathing resistance


These products are primarily designed to minimize the projection of respiratory droplets (saliva, sputum, or respiratory secretions) when talking, coughing, or sneezing. They are not intended to limit penetration into the user’s mouth and/or nose of external respiratory droplets, although this may be a secondary benefit. In addition, they will also stop the user’s hand touching the mouth area when coughing or sneezing.


CWA 17553:2020 establishes two filtration levels for community face covering materials:

  • Level 90%: greater than or equal to 90%, 3 (± 0,5) µm
  • Level 70%: greater than or equal to 70%, 3 (± 0,5) µm


The material used in the community face covering should also demonstrate acceptable levels of breathability, citing multiple acceptable methods for breathing resistance and air permeability.


Stakeholders should be aware these requirements apply to both brand new face coverings and those that have been through multiple cleaning cycles.


CEN has produced this Workshop Agreement at a time when community face coverings are playing an important role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. It is not an official standard and neither the National Members of CEN nor the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre can be held accountable for its technical content or possible conflicts with standards or legislation.


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Notes to editors

For more information, please contact:

Ben Christie

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Email: ben@sugarloafmarketing.co.uk

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