The safety of people is an absolute priority whether it’s in a Covid-secure health sense or general physical safety.

It’s inevitable that wearing face masks will cause some degree of challenges with the use of technology. Facial recognition is far less effective when face coverings are worn and, where CCTV is concerned,  it becomes more difficult to identify people and detect suspicious behaviour when a person’s complete face cannot be fully seen.

With face masks now compulsory in all shops, and following the announcement that face masks are now compulsory in secondary schools in areas of localised lockdown, with headteachers having the power to enforce face masks in any communal area of all secondary schools, we could expect to see further changes to the legislation around face coverings worn inside buildings. In France, for example, face masks will be compulsory in offices from September.

Access and verification processes would still need to be adhered to and that could mean the temporary removal of face masks to allow facial recognition to do its job. Manual ID pass checks would also require the same treatment. With current low occupancy rates this isn’t a huge problem now but as buildings slowly return to fuller capacity, challenges may arise and entering a building could take longer.

Communication is king. If processes are going to be changing, in any setting, then people need to be made aware of how this will affect them, what they should expect and why they need to do things differently. This will help avoid any pushbacks and ensure a smooth transition with people feeling confident about what to expect. There will always be some people who won’t want to comply and will present difficulties, but on the whole most people want to do the right thing especially if they understand it is for their benefit and those around them.

The relationship between security and face masks will need to evolve to accommodate the new normal. The solution for this will differ from company to company. Some buildings that are solely reliant on facial recognition or CCTV may move to being supported by the physical presence of a security officer, but it will never be one size fits all. As the workplace continues to evolve as a result of the pandemic, it will be more important than ever that clients and security providers collaborate to create a tailored solution that also fits commercial efficacy. System changes and security officer upskilling though will be a common occurrence.

The role of security has changed dramatically over the last 30 years and there have been continuous changes in terms of processes for occupiers. We’ve moved from manual checks to technology integration and remote surveillance and introduced rigorous new visitor check-in measures and asking staff to check-in visitors and lock away their laptops and computer equipment at night. The impact of face masks on security is just a new process to navigate in the ever-changing world of security.