Freedom Day: What are the new rules on masks in England?

·3-min read
Freedom Day: What are the new rules on masks in England?

The remaining Covid restrictions were lifted on Monday in England, with people no longer required by law to wear masks.

But the Government has said people are still expected to wear face masks in certain situations while some businesses, travel operators and local politicians have said masks are still required to use services.

What are the rules on masks from July 19?

When the remaining restrictions in England lifted on Monday people were no longer required by law to wear face coverings in certain settings.

But the latest guidance says the Government "expects and recommends" masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces such as public transport.

Do people need masks to go to the shops?

Supermarket chain Sainsbury's has said it encourages all customers to continue wearing face coverings if they can.

Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose have since come out to say they are also encouraging customers and staff to continue wearing masks in their supermarkets.

Staff and customers at Waitrose and John Lewis have also recommended wearing masks but the John Lewis Partnership said it is ultimately up to individual judgment.

What about going to a hospital or GP appointment?

Staff, patients and visitors in all NHS settings must continue to wear face coverings and observe social distancing, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

PHE said infection prevention measures and visiting guidance are set to continue across all health services including hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies, to ensure patients and staff are protected.

Staff, patients and visitors are expected to continue following social distancing rules when visiting any care setting, as well as using face coverings and other personal protection equipment.

What about public transport?

Face coverings continue to be compulsory in some locally operated public transport spaces.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said face coverings are required on Transport for London (TfL) services as a "condition of carriage".

This means enforcement officers are able to deny access or eject passengers found to be non-compliant while using the TfL network including tubes, trams, buses and the London Overground.

Face coverings also remain compulsory on Greater Manchester's Metrolink tram services and the Heathrow Express.

What about other transport providers?

Cross-Channel train firm Eurostar and airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair continue to require passengers to wear face coverings, while Heathrow Airport said that face-coverings are mandatory.

But the train industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has announced that all domestic train operators, such as Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, do not require passengers to wear face coverings.

It said rail companies are asking people to follow the Government guidance and, out of respect for others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents major bus and coach operators such as National Express and Megabus, has also said that its members are not mandating the wearing of face coverings.

Does this mean different parts of the country have different rules on public transport?

Elected regional mayors across England previously warned that without a continued national mandate there would be a "ridiculous mismatch" of rules across the country that will be "confusing" for passengers.

The Labour metro mayors for West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, West of England and South Yorkshire urged the Government to continue to make face coverings compulsory on all public transport beyond the lifting of restrictions.

What are the rules in Scotland and Wales?

In Wales, face coverings continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport, while in Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said face covering measures are likely to remain for "some time to come".

Wales eased some restrictions on July 17, with almost all coronavirus measures due to be lifted from August 7, but it will remain the law to wear a face mask on public transport and in most indoor settings.

The Welsh Government will lift the requirement for people to wear masks as soon as the public health situation allows, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

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