BRITS have been ordered to wear face masks on buses and trains — with fines for refusing.
Ministers will make it a “condition of carriage” for face coverings to be worn on public transport from June 15 in a bid to slash the spread of coronavirus.
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Passengers without a face mask will not be allowed to board or told to get off at the next stop.
British Transport Police will have powers allowing them to issue on-the-spot fines to rule breakers. Young children, the disabled and those with breathing difficulties will be exempt.
So far, face masks on public transport have been only a suggestion.
But The Sun reported in April the growing consensus on their effectiveness in helping to reduce the virus’s spread.
And with more and more data suggesting the same, ministers are keen to enforce widespread use, especially with the numbers of businesses and schools reopening set to rise.
At Thursday's Downing Street briefing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people in England will be “required to wear face coverings” on public transport both to protect themselves and others from mid-June.
He said: “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.
“We are doing what many other countries have asked transport users to do.
"We need to ensure every precaution is taken on buses, trains, aircraft and on ferries with more people using transport.
“The evidence suggests wearing face coverings offers some protection against the spread of the virus.
"This will mean that you can be refused travel. If you don’t comply, you can be fined.
“Alongside transport operators, this will be enforced by the British Transport Police if necessary.
"You cannot travel unless you wear a face covering. There will also be other powers, ultimately it could lead to fines.”
It comes as:
- Ministers changed official advice to say that kids under three should not wear a mask
- Nicola Sturgeon said she was considering making it mandatory to wear masks in shops
- Here's our guide to how to make one at home
- And where you can buy one online
Masking the mouth and nose reduces the risk of asymptomatic carriers — who are infected but showing no symptoms — from passing on the bug.
A DIY face-covering can be used — even just a scarf or a thin cloth mask.
Private hire taxis and minicabs are also included in the measures.
But the rules do not cover bus stops, railway stations and other terminals.
Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, said: “We are expecting staff to wear face coverings themselves.
"This is about people (using public transport) being sensible.
“We’re just saying, please wear them, it’s good for you and good for protecting others.
"I’m not expecting a huge upsurge in railway staff having to police this.”
A study for the World Health Organization this week found using a face mask cuts the risk of catching Covid by four-fifths.
Experts say universal uptake could help Brits safely “resume normal activities” and “protect people in crowded settings”.
Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at Edinburgh University, called it a “sensible step” that could reassure commuters.
Meanwhile, a study claims Brits could hug family and friends without risking a second peak if everyone stayed two metres from strangers.
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Researchers from the University of Oxford say existing social distancing rules are unnecessarily strict and are damaging the nation’s health and economy.
They say it is possible to loosen the guidelines while still keeping coronavirus under control.
The study recommends creating social bubbles or small groups of contacts who could be treated as if they lived in the same household and not have to stick to the two-metre rule.
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