The government has announced that it is making the wearing facemasks on public transport mandatory from Monday 15th June.

Although wearing facemasks in crowded areas is already recommended, from Monday 15th June, anyone who turns up at a train station, or tries to get on a bus, or other public transport will be turned away until they come back suitably masked.

Facemasks help to slightly reduce the wearer’s chance of catching an infection, but the main benefit is that it also makes it much harder for the wearer to pass an infection to other people. The COVID virus seems to be spread more easily thanks to being infectious in people who show no symptoms, so asking everyone to wear a facemask is thought to help significantly reduce the spread of the virus.

The science is still debated, but the principle is clear, and after much prodding, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has decided to err on the side of caution and make them mandatory.

From Monday 15th June, wearing coverings will be “a condition of travel”, and refusal to wear one, or removing it while on board could lead to being fined.

The Transport Secretary confirmed that they will be making changed to the National Rail Conditions of Travel and the Public Service Vehicle Regulations for buses to allow staff to stop unmasked people from using public transport.

There will be exceptions to the rule for very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties – although how that will be applied is to be confirmed.

Grant Shapps said that the timing of the change to require mandatory facemasks is aligned with an expected easing of the lockdown conditions, which could see more people travelling by public transport.

The Mayor of London has already confirmed that they expect face masks to cover both nose and mouth — which seems obvious, but people do often manage to leave their noses uncovered at times.

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51 comments
  1. So, I’m going to have to wear a special TfL badge saying “severe asthmatic” so I don’t have to keep being stopped and told off?

    • Melvyn says:

      Same goes for people like me with epilepsy where restricted breathing problems could cause a seizure and think of deaf people who use lip reading to communicate!

      If this was necessary then it should have been introduced in March when the virus was far more prevalent than now !

      I notice other countries provide suitable flask masks free to passengers entering stations and if it’s compulsory then same should apply in England!

      So how are people with invisible disabilities meant to identify themselves several times a day …. Deaf people will not be able to lip read a discrimination against them !

      I haven’t used rail since March but have used buses for short local journeys and just taken my first longer journeys and the fresh air on buses with open windows was the bonus !

      And what happens on long distance journeys are passengers meant to go for up to 4-5 hours on London to,Scotland journeys without food or water ?

      Surely its time the ridiculous 2 metre rule was reduced to 1 metre as used around the world !

    • Sandra Callagan says:

      I’m asthmatics how thst goner work out get on public transport I csrnt wear a mask so how the driver honer now

  2. Pragmatic Sceptic. says:

    All a bit too late…. by about three or four months.

    • ianvisits says:

      Being (maybe) late is no reason not to start now.

    • Pragmatic Sceptic. says:

      And they don’t work very well.

    • Radioleg says:

      I think transit use being down 95% is why it hasn’t been needed now, although maybe it could have helped in the Underground in the lead-up/early days of lockdown.

      It’s prudent to be cautious as transit use ticks up, given the high percentage of asymptomatic cases.

  3. Melvyn says:

    They have said that passengers can wear any old thing to cover their mouths which means if someone sneezes ( hay fever just beginning) the result will simply mean anything ejected will go sideways so simply affecting different people !

    Looks like the war my father’s generation comrades of Captain Tom who fought in WWII for freedom has been usurped by incompetent politicians!

    • JP says:

      Food and water are freely available in one’s own packed lunch brought onto the long-distance train for the very purpose of self-isolating self-sustaining.
      At the moment off-peak travel has been the closest to a private train service that I am likely to get. All carriages are miraculously transformed into quiet coaches, nay absolutely silent coaches in fact and there’s only been the guard and me in the front three. The novelty of pulling into each station a minute early also doesn’t wear off quickly.
      Masked visits to the sparkling loos in order to show willing.
      Then you arrive back in London…

  4. JH says:

    It’s genuinely very upsetting about how deep some people’s denial is about facemasks. They work. They have been in widespread use across Asia for decades, and countries such as South Korea suppressed outbreaks through the use of masks and contact tracing alone.

    Germany implemented this scheme months ago. No-one complained. People either bought masks or made their own. The cost of buying one is negligible. They prevent not only COVID-19 from being spread to others (and, to a lesser extent, being caught) but they also help stop the spread of flu and other seasonal ailments.

    Being upset at the smell of your own breath is not a reason to deny simple face-covering doesn’t work. Buy one, make one, and protect yourself and others — for the sake of your loved ones at the very least (though I imagine for some, such a concept of ‘loved’ might be alien).

    • JP says:

      As we’re now daily made aware, online communication without offline real world verbal or visual pointers is still a poor substitute for being nose to nose. Emojis as a compensator? We’re not in primary school, must try harder technocrats.
      Thus I can’t be sure that my flippant attempt at (six year old) humour regarding masks and smelly train loos wasn’t taken as pooh-poohing the wearing of one. Apologies that (not “if” please note oleaginous politicos) it’s been taken as such.
      Finally what direction to go in the case of masked communication with those who lipread?
      Moving aside the mask involves touching with potentially dirty hands, be they gloved or no, then breathing droplets onto those nearby as lips move.
      Two metres may not be enough after all as I’m sure that we’ve all smelled other people’s odour or scent from greater distance than that. Can’t win can you?!

    • Andrew S says:

      The trouble is that this virus spread from the very part of the world where wearing masks is the norm. It’s hard to shake off the thought that they don’t actually seem to make much difference.

      Having worn a mask to make the occasional delivery to elderly people and been desperate to get some fresh air after a few minutes, I’m thinking this is all a ruse to make travelling so unpleasant that it really is kept for essential journeys despite the government giving the impression that meltdown has eased.

    • Hadiri says:

      I agree with those saying this is just all for show. WHO and most scientists say masks don’t make much difference, but wearers may feel overconfident and ignore other more important measures. Plus all I see are people constantly adjusting their masks, therefore spreading any potential virus (which lives on the mask for ages) on themselves and everything they touch, so risk is actually higher when people don’t use them correctly. In Far East people maybe using them correctly but I haven’t seen that here.

  5. TJ says:

    To avoid discriminating against the Deaf I will pull down my mask before I speak to anyone

  6. RJW says:

    It’s going to cause a lot of stress for the minority with genuine reason not to wear one having to repeatedly explain their circumstances, not just to drivers and staff but to ignorant fellow passengers. As for discriminating against lip readers, how often does anyone really need to have an essential conversation on a bus or train?

    If masks are going to be mandatory they really need to be made readily available at stations. I haven’t been beyond walking distance of my home for 12 weeks and I haven’t noticed them on sale anywhere other than online, except in a hardware shop when the racks were completely empty.

  7. Kat Martin says:

    I’ve been looking for face masks and the cheapest i have seen advertised are £30 for 50 disposable masks, a lot of money especially as I only want them for a once a week shopping trip. Also, I havent yet found a shop that has some in stock.

  8. JP says:

    M&S have them in store in packs of 3 if you’re out and have forgotten yours. Corner shops seem to have them too.

    • Hadiri says:

      And what happens to all these single use masks? As far as I can see they are being thrown on the ground – which is a biohazard as well as littering.

  9. Look fab says:

    I think these masks should be provided by the government on public transport for not everyone can afford to buy these masks and most people use buses and trains in London.

    • ianvisits says:

      There are plenty of examples of how to reuse existing t-shirts and t-towels as suitable face coverings – there’s no need to spend money if you can’t afford them.

  10. Kim says:

    TfL are giving out free masks at selected locations. They state that the mask is for use on one single journey only and should be of disposed afterwards. So you will new ten for an average week’s commute in the “new normal”.

  11. Chris Rogers says:

    It may be the case that “The Transport Secretary confirmed that they will be making changed to the National Rail Conditions of Travel and the Public Service Vehicle Regulations for buses to allow staff to stop unmasked people from using public transport”, but it was also clearly announced that TfL taff would NOT be expected to enforce the rule.

  12. ChrisH says:

    To clarify –
    Face coverings must be worn.
    They don’t have to be face masks.
    They don’t have to be to a medical or PPE standard.
    They don’t have to be one-use.
    They can be fabric, washable and reusable.
    You can use a buff, a snood, a scarf…

  13. Rik says:

    Pratt’s that say asmatic should be more ovousious for to wear mask for health reasons you don’t have to wear it all day like poor bus driver only for the journey pratts

    • JP says:

      Indeed, but before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes or perhaps an asthmatic in a mask.

    • kevin says:

      maybe you should try to be more understanding and less judgmental

    • Sandy Knight says:

      I am an asthmatic and to have anything covering my nose and mouth restricts my breathing and is deeply uncomfortable. I cannot breath deeply enough and could be the cause of an attack. Unless you have ever been in a situation where you are struggling to breath don’t comment about asthmatics as you have no clue.
      Many experts have said anyone with breathing difficulties should not wear a mask.

  14. kevin says:

    As a asthmatic l find this very worrying as l have tried and at most I can wear one for 10mins tops and my asthma kicks in

    • Lisa Linda Scarrott says:

      I cant wear them either because of severe anxiety clusterphobia and panic attacks I hate things around my head or face I know it would trigger my panic attacks off big time

  15. Judith says:

    Why is this not getting promoted on every bus so that people are aware??
    it will be a nightmare for your drivers trying to manage it! without the help of posters on All Buses-Doors -Windows etc

    • ianvisits says:

      I have seen signs on buses (and other venues) announcing it – but also it was the headline news story on the day it was announced, and there have been loads of news articles about it subsequently.

      There comes a point where outreach can only do so much to inform people about things.

    • Darren Bird says:

      i did contact the travel provider who said i dont have to wear a mask but i was harrassed and policeman said after spending 5 minutes explaining to him he said if you have astmah then isnt it better for you to cover mouth.

    • ianvisits says:

      Very odd that you were still harassed when you presented the blue badge that TfL has offered to people with hidden disabilities for the past couple of years.

      The police are supposed to be trained to understand what it means.

  16. Siobhan says:

    I’m going to have to wear something that says I cant wear a mask, the last time I wore a face mask to the shop I nearly passed out and couldnt breathe, its it’s either I die or I tisk it
    Who do I contact about it

    • ianvisits says:

      If you have a medical condition, don’t post questions on random websites asking for advice – SPEAK TO A DOCTOR.

  17. andrew hall says:

    Government should have done this sooner goibg backward

  18. caroline ansell says:

    I can’t wear a face mask as I was interview with in 95 and then ir lead to panic attacks eplesy

  19. Lisa Scarrott says:

    I have severe anxiety and panic attacks and clusterphobia would I have to wear face masks on buses coaches etc I am on medication and my gp knows how bad my condition can get. I will have a packet box medication in my bag as proof what happens to people who cant wear masks how are they going to prove they cant wear them. It’s quite wrong for the government to make it compulsory to wear masks some people can not wear them at all

  20. Paul Dicken says:

    These regulations are not mandatory in Wales although wearing of masks has been advised here, with some rail companies requiring it. We find it irritating that the BBC and other media don’t point out that changes to Covid 19 regulations are specific to each UK country.

  21. kat says:

    I have emphysema cant ware mask just been asked to i yold ladies cant she said do you have proof told her not on me no now long been told on way for xray as I’m getting worse and to get inhaler

  22. Mark gauci says:

    There is no conclusive experimental evidence that facemasks actually work,but we do know they have a detrimental affect on people with breathing difficulties ; do they have to keep explaining to bus drivers complex medical issues everyone they travel. This is an idiotic instruction that people have to follow against their will

    • ianvisits says:

      While it would be unethical to carry out the sort of experiments needed to provide the “conclusive experimental evidence” you are demanding – it’s a variant of the no proof that parachutes save lives fallacy – there’s no experiment evidence, but people accept that on balance, parachutes do save lives, there is a heck of a lot of suggestive evidence that face masks do work, and that builds up to the necessary level of confidence that medical professionals use to say that wearing the masks reduces the spread of airborne diseases.

      https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2020/05/28/masks-probably-slow-the-spread-of-covid-19

      While there will always be medical outlyers for any situation, a person with a hidden disability such as a breathing problem has been able to get a blue-badge from TfL for the past couple of years now to prove their medical situation – and you just need to show that to the driver to be let on board no questions asked.

  23. Lisa Scarrott says:

    What if you cant wear masks because of panic attacks clusterphobia and anxiety if I have anything around my face or head it would set off a massive panic attack for me I wont be able to breath and I have known to have faint if anything on my face is covered up. Surely with medication and possibley with a letter from gp or travel coach company I’m travelling with I would be exempt from wearing masks

    • ianvisits says:

      If you have a medical condition, don’t post questions on random websites asking for advice – SPEAK TO A DOCTOR.

  24. Letitia Freeman says:

    I have asthma and my son has cerebral palsy and epilepsy so do we have to wear a face mask while travelling

    • ianvisits says:

      If you have a medical condition, don’t post questions on random websites asking for advice – SPEAK TO A DOCTOR.

  25. Graham Tandy says:

    I have Heart Disease and Depression /Anxiety, i wouldn’t be able to wear a face mask, can I get proof that I can’t wear one because of my illnesses

    • ianvisits says:

      If you have a medical condition, don’t post questions on random websites asking for advice – SPEAK TO A DOCTOR.

  26. Anthony says:

    I refuse to wear a facemask and will ONLY wear a facevisor on public transport and elsewhere because a) I don’t like covering my nose and mouth and b) it’s still covering my face so what’s the problem?

    • ianvisits says:

      Most people don’t like doing things that need to be done, but do them because they need to be done – so what makes you so superior to everyone else in deciding how to behave on public transport?

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