Face coverings to be made mandatory on public transport
- Credit: PA
Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in England from June 15, it has been announed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “we need to ensure every precaution is taken” on buses, trains, aircraft and ferries as further lockdown measures are eased and passenger numbers increase.
Currently passengers are advised to wear a face covering but are not stopped from travelling without one.
At a Downing Street press conference, Mr Shapps said changes would be made to the conditions of travel for trains and buses.
“This will mean that you can be refused travel if you don’t comply and you could be fined,” he said.
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“Alongside transport operators, this will be enforced by the British Transport Police if necessary, but I expect the vast majority of people won’t need to be forced into this.”
Young children and people with disabilities and breathing difficulties will be exempt.
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Face coverings can be a scarf, piece of cloth or mask.
The government says they are “marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure”, and states that evidence suggests face coverings do not protect the wearer, but may protect other people if he or she is infected.
Surgical masks should be reserved for people who need them for protection while at work such as medical staff, according to official advice.
London mayor Sadiq Khan was among those who have been lobbying the government to make face coverings mandatory on public transport.
He said ministers have “finally seen sense”, adding that there is “a large body of evidence” that face coverings can help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Transport unions had also urged ministers to enforce the wearing of face coverings after the deaths of dozens of workers.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said the announcement was “long overdue”.
Mr Shapps said on May 12 that 42 TfL workers and 10 mainline rail staff had died after being infected by coronavirus.
People are advised to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before a face covering is put on or taken off, and coverings should also be washed regularly.