Face coverings: What are the new rules?
- Credit: PA
Public transport passengers in England will soon need to wear a face covering to be allowed to travel.
Here are key questions about the use of coverings and masks answered.
• What has the Government said?
People must wear face coverings when using public transport in England.
• Why is it recommending face coverings?
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The Government states that, while wearing a face covering does not protect the wearer, it may protect others if people are infected but have not yet developed symptoms.
• Are the changes effective immediately?
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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told a Downing Street press conference on Thursday that the changes would become mandatory from June 15.
• How will it be enforced?
While announcing the measures, Mr Shapps told reporters that it will be enforced by transport operators and British Transport Police “if necessary”.
He said that changes would be made to the conditions of travel for trains and buses, adding: “This will mean that you can be refused travel if you don’t comply and you could be fined.”
• Are there any exemptions?
There will be exemptions to the rules for very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.
• What if I’m travelling on a train from Wales or Scotland to England?
Mr Shapps has suggested that passengers on trains starting outside England may have to put on coverings when crossing the border.
He said it would be up to Scotland and Wales to issue their own guidance. But earlier on Thursday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that her government is “considering making it mandatory” to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops.
• Where else should they be worn?
Current advice is for face coverings to be worn in enclosed spaces, which also includes some shops.
People are not being told to wear them outdoors, while exercising, in schools or offices.
• What about masks?
Several airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair have introduced a requirement for passengers to wear face masks.
But the Government believes these should be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers.
• If I develop Covid-19 symptoms, can I still go out if I wear a mask or covering?
No. People with coronavirus symptoms and their household should isolate at home.
• What sort of face coverings should I use?
Scarves, cotton home-made coverings that cover nose and mouth and other bought masks that are not ones used by the health service are fine.
Officials said that people can make coverings at home, but added that “the key thing is it should cover your mouth and nose”.
• What is the science?
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) thinks the evidence of masks preventing the spread of infection from one person to another is “marginal but positive”.
The World Health Organisation has stressed that there is no evidence that wearing a mask – whether medical or other types – by healthy persons in the wider community can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including Covid-19.
• Are there any downsides to using face coverings?
Concerns have been raised that they could give a false sense of security and mean that people are less stringent with other preventative measures such as social distancing and hand hygiene.