Face Coverings to be Mandatory on Public Transport in England

Face coverings will be made compulsory on public transport in England and those refusing to comply could be issued with fines.

The announcement was made by the U.K.'s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who 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 government will require people to wear face coverings on buses, trains, tubes and other modes of public transport from June 15, the date where non-essential shops are likely to reopen, as announced by the prime minister.

Shapps said: "I can announce that as of Monday June 15 face coverings will become mandatory on public transport.

"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.

"There will be exemptions to these rules for very young children, for disabled people and those with breathing difficulties."

Those who don't wear a face covering from that date, could be refused permission to board buses or trains, with Shapps saying it was a "condition of carriage" on public transport.

face coverings mandatory
Those who use public transport from June 15 will have to wear a face covering Getty

However, the instruction to wear face coverings will not apply to people entering shops.

"We need to ensure every precaution is taken," Shapps said.

The government had previously stated that the wearing of face coverings was been considered as part of plans to ease lockdown measures.

At the end of April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "As part of coming out of the lockdown, I do think that face coverings will be useful both for epidemiological reasons but also for giving people confidence that they can go back to work."

The transport secretary's announcement comes after Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government was looking at plans to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in enclosed public spaces in Scotland.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed the move and said: "I'm pleased that 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.

"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."