Face masks will be compulsory on all public transport in England from June 15, the Transport Secretary has announced.
Grant Shapps said that the use of face coverings would “offer some, albeit limited, protection” against the spread of coronavirus as passenger numbers increase with the further easing of lockdown measures.
Travel operators could refuse to let passengers on board if they are not covering their face – and those who refuse to follow the new protocol could face a fine. Exceptions will apply for very young children, disabled people, and those who have breathing difficulties.
Uber has also announced new guidelines for its passengers and drivers. Face masks will be compulsory for everyone in the vehicle from June 15.
Previously, government advice urged the public to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed places, but it was not made mandatory.
On June 5, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, announced that hospital visitors and outpatients would need to wear face coverings and all hospital staff would be required to wear surgical masks in England from June 15.
He told the daily Downing Street press conference: “This will cover all staff working in hospital, it will apply at all times – not just when they are doing life-saving work on the front line – and it will apply in all areas, except those areas designated as Covid-secure workplaces.”
It also emerged that ministers could relax the two metre regulation if people get into the habit of wearing them in all public places.
Government sources acknowledged face coverings might be necessary in shops by the autumn at the very least, because the public will not put up with queuing outside supermarkets for long periods in rain, snow or freezing temperatures. Instead they could be allowed indoors in greater numbers if they are wearing masks.