Wearing a face covering on public transport in England will be compulsory from 15 June, the transport secretary has announced.
Speaking at the latest coronavirus news conference in Downing Street, Grant Shapps said people can be refused travel if they do not comply and could be fined.
He said “we need to ensure every precaution is taken” on buses, trains, aircraft and ferries as the COVID-19 lockdown is relaxed further and passenger numbers increase.
A face covering can be a scarf, piece of cloth or a mask.
At the moment, passengers are advised to wear a face covering but are not prevented from boarding transport without one.
Mr Shapps said changes would be made to the conditions of travel for trains and buses, which “will mean that you can be refused travel if you don’t comply and you could be fined”.
“Alongside transport operators, this will be enforced by the British Transport Police if necessary, but I expect the vast majority of people won’t need to be forced into this,” he added.
The government says face coverings are “marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure”.
Evidence suggests they do not protect the wearer, but may protect other people if he or she is infected with COVID-19.
According to official advice, surgical masks should be reserved for people who need them for protection while at work.
London mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been lobbying ministers to make face coverings mandatory, said the government has “finally seen sense”.
He added that there is “a large body of evidence” that they can help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Transport unions have also been calling on Downing Street to enforce the wearing of face coverings, following the deaths of dozens of workers during the pandemic.
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