Water saving advice risks seeing public wash their hands less, warns government

Helena Horton
The dry spell has sparked fears of a drought

Advice to the public to save water risks a decrease in handwashing, the government has warned.

The exceptionally dry spring has caused water companies to warn of upcoming shortages, and people across the country have been asked to limit the water they use. This is especially important during lockdown, with demand up by 20 per cent in some areas as people stay at home.

Hygiene, and in particular regular handwashing, are important parts of slowing the epidemic, but there are concerns that people could take the advice to mean they should wash their hands less.

Guidance from Defra states that people should be "using water wisely" manage this "precious resource", especially during hot weather.

They recommend people using water in the garden take some simple steps such as fitting a trigger to the hose or using a bucket to wash the car or water plants.

However, the government department added: "While we ask people to use water wisely, they should follow current NHS advice on stopping the spread of coronavirus spreading by washing your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds and ensuring you wash your hands as soon as you get home."      A spokesperson for charity Waterwise said: "It’s vital that we continue to follow the hand washing guidelines recommended by Public Health England.

"However, there are plenty of ways to save water in other areas of people's lives and this has been the focus of recent water company water saving campaigns."

The government and water companies have asked British people to save water as much as they can despite the need for heightened hygiene measures.

They have recommended taking shorter showers, making sure the dishwasher is full and on an eco-setting before running it through, and reusing paddling pool water on the flowerbeds.

Rivers across the country have emptied of water because of the drought. Environment Agency fisheries specialists have been out in Shropshire rescuing fish stranded in dried up rivers, as 3 months of little rain takes its toll.