It will be compulsory to wear face masks on public transport from 15 June onwards, according to transport secretary Grant Shapps.
The public will be required to use face coverings on buses, trains, tubes and other modes of public transport from that date, at which point many are expected to return to work with the reopening of non-essential shops. People entering stores are not expected to wear masks.
“As of Monday 15 June, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport,” Shapps said. “That doesn’t mean surgical masks, which we must keep for clinical settings, it means the kind of face covering you can easily make at home.
“The evidence suggests that wearing face coverings offers some, albeit limited, protection, against the spread of the virus.”
The decision comes amid criticism that social distancing is impossible on crowded public transport. The aim is to help stop asymptomatic people passing the virus on to others and also act as a visible reminder of the need for distancing and measures such as handwashing.
A recent Guardian survey revealed that fewer than four in 10 people currently wear a face covering on public transport, with the most unlikely to use them largely young and middle-aged men.
"I'm pleased our lobbying has paid off and the government has finally seen sense and made it mandatory for people to wear face coverings on public transport," said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. "This is something I and others have been calling on ministers to do for some time, and is in line with a large body of evidence that they can help stop the spread of coronavirus."
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