ONE thousand face visors are being given out to Otley residents for free as part of a study into tackling COVID-19.

A retired Otley doctor and former Forensic Medical Examiner, who does not want to be named, believes that such visors could play an important role in keeping people safe as the lockdown is eased.

Surgical masks are still being recommended as the best face covering for reducing the chances of transmitting the virus while experts are advising that more research is needed before face visors and shields can be recommended for general use.

The Otley doctor who is distributing visors - provided by Chesterfield firm FlexiPPE - accepts that masks offer the most effective protection but also believes that many more people would be willing to wear visors.

He said: “This is a naturalistic study, reflecting one that’s been done in Kent where 15,000 visors have been given to a population of 150,000. We are giving out 1,000 free, professionally made visors to see if they are tolerable. Because the evidence is that the elderly, especially, can’t tolerate masks for all kinds of reasons including experiencing breathing difficulties and problems with hearing and speaking.

“Some are predicting that the Government will soon say most of us should be wearing a mask. We’d like them to consider advising us to wear a mask or a visor because visors are much less intrusive.

“You forget you’re wearing a visor, they stop you touching your face and, very importantly, they allow you to communicate. It’s very likely that having a high proportion of people wearing visors will be more protective for the population than occasional mask wearers.”

The doctor is not receiving any financial reward and is offering the visors without obligation, though people can provide details to help the study if they wish.

He says his aim is to give ‘a random inoculation to perhaps 10 per cent of the adult population (in Otley) to see if wearing this potential protection becomes as acceptable as wearing sunglasses’.

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) said: “Protective equipment is important and we must do everything we can to protect the public. I look forward to the outcome of studies into the best available methods of protecting ourselves and each other as the lockdown measures are reduced.”