Where do I need to wear a mask now restrictions have eased?

·6-min read
People wearing face masks among crowds of pedestrians in Covent Garden, London.(PA) (PA Wire)
People wearing face masks among crowds of pedestrians in Covent Garden, London.(PA) (PA Wire)

Face masks are no longer mandatory in shops and on most public transport after the remaining coronavirus restrictions in England were lifted on Monday.

But the Government has said people will still be expected to wear face coverings in certain situations and ministers have urged people to “respect” businesses and public transport providers insisting on mask wearing continuing.

Here PA looks at where people will need to wear face coverings now restrictions have eased.

– What are the rules on wearing masks in England now?

People are no longer required by law to wear face coverings in certain settings now the remaining restrictions in England have been lifted.

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

– Does this mean that people do not need to carry masks with them anymore?

It is probably best not to be too quick to throw away your mask.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Health leaders, local politicians, shop bosses and transport chiefs have all said that they will continue to require or encourage people to wear face coverings.

This means that face coverings may be required in some premises, on some bus and train services, hospitals and GP surgeries.

– What do experts say about masks?

Some experts are urging people to continue to wear masks in busy public spaces.

Dr David Nabarro a World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19, urged people to continue with preventative measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

He told Sky News: “My recommendation is simply wear your mask, don’t get too close to people, watch out in confined spaces and remember this virus hasn’t gone away.”

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises ministers, said it is important that people remain cautious after so-called Freedom Day.

He told Sky News that people should continue to minimise contact with others and wear a mask when mixing with people indoors.

– Do people still need masks to go to the shops then?

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s on Wednesday said it would encourage all customers to continue wearing face coverings from July 19 if they can.

Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose also came out to say they will encourage customers and staff to continue wearing masks in their supermarkets from when restrictions ease.

Customers maintain social distancing in a queue to enter a Waitrose supermarket (Victoria Jones/PA Images) (PA Archive)
Customers maintain social distancing in a queue to enter a Waitrose supermarket (Victoria Jones/PA Images) (PA Archive)

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

– How about public transport?

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

People in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire will have to continue wearing face masks in bus stations operated by the combined authorities, while passengers using the Metro in the North East will also be required to wear a face covering.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also said face coverings will be required on Transport for London (TfL) services as a “condition of carriage”.

This means enforcement officers would be able to deny access or eject passengers found to be non-compliant while using the TfL network.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wears a mask on the Underground (Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images) (PA Wire)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wears a mask on the Underground (Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images) (PA Wire)

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

– What about other transport providers?

Cross-Channel train firm Eurostar airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, plus Heathrow Airport will continue to require passengers to wear face coverings.

Heathrow Express, which operates services to London Paddington, said face coverings will remain mandatory.

But all other train companies such as Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, plus major bus and coach companies including National Express and Megabus, will not demand mask-wearing.

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 will not mandate the wearing of face coverings.

Minicab hailing app Uber has also said drivers and passengers will continue to be required to wear a mask even though they will no longer be required by law.

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

Elected regional mayors across England have 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 have urged the Government to continue to make face coverings compulsory on all public transport beyond the lifting of restrictions.

– 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 will continue across all health services including hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies, to ensure patients and staff are protected.

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

– What are the rules in Scotland and Wales?

In Wales, face coverings will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport when coronavirus restrictions are lifted next month, 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 Saturday, 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 except pubs and restaurants and schools.

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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