Face mask rules for trains, supermarkets, hospitals and GP surgeries from today

From July 19 face masks are not required by law, but a number of places including supermarket chains such as Tesco and Aldi, as well as hospitals and train operators, are still insisting on them

Will you continue to wear a face mask after July 19?
Will you continue to wear a face mask after July 19?

Wearing a face mask is no longer be a legal requirement in England from Monday.

As England reaches step 4 of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, a number of the restrictions that have been in place since the pandemic began in March 2020 have now been scrapped.

No more limits on how many people you can meet in the pub, your home or at the park. Social distancing? Gone. Nightclubs can also reopen for the first time in more than 16 months.

However, some places will continue to take precautions, particularly when it comes to wearing face masks.

The Government wants people to exercise their common sense when the law is replaced with voluntary guidance on July 19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "we expect and recommend" people to continue wearing them in "crowded and enclosed spaces … such as on public transport".

With train and bus operators, supermarkets, and hospitals and medical practices issuing their guidance, here's a round-up of mask rules and guidance from July 19.

Public transport

Avanti West Coast/West Midlands Railway/London Northwestern Railway: The three train operators have followed the Rail Delivery Group's (RDG) stance of urging people to wear a face covering when services are busy.

An RDG spokesperson said: “Rail companies will ask people to follow the government guidance and, out of respect for others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy. Train travel is low risk, with the majority of carriages well ventilated by air conditioning systems or by doors and windows.

“As restrictions lift, we will continue carrying out extra cleaning and providing better information about how busy services are, so that our passengers can travel with confidence.”

Transport for Wales: The company says if "fully supports" the Welsh Government advice and is reminding passengers that face coverings must be worn on public transport in Wales, unless expect.

Transport for Wales will also ask its passengers to wear coverings on its trains even when part, or all, of their journey is in England.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM): Passengers are still expected to wear masks on all modes of transport, even though the authority does not have the power to make them mandatory. Offering advice for passengers using public transport after July 19, TfWM said: "Whilst guidance from central Government recommends wearing of face coverings when indoors and in close proximity to lots of people, including on public transport, TfWM and transport operators in the West Midlands will expect you to continue to act responsibly and continue to wear a face covering unless exempt.

"TfWM will work with transport operators across the region to implement this new guidance and these expectations."

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said any law changes must come from the Government, but is still urging people to wear face masks, adding: "We do, however, have a clear expectation of all passengers to continue to wear their face coverings across all modes of public transport. We will have staff out and about at stations and on services relaying this message and handing out masks where needed.

National Express West Midlands: The bus company says it expects passengers to continue wearing face coverings unless they're exempt. There is also an online tool customers can use "to see how busy their bus is, to help them plan their journey in advance".

National Express West Midlands passengers will be expected to wear masks after July 19

Diamond Bus: The group will continue to ask customers to wear masks, but drivers will not be enforcing the rule. A spokesman said the company will "will respectfully ask that customers continue to protect themselves and others by choosing to wear a face covering onboard unless they are exempt".

D&G Bus: The Staffordshire operator will also ask for people to wear masks on its buses. Bus network manager Chris Almond said: “We are still requesting that passengers wear a face covering when travelling with us. We are also continuing the use of having a safety screen for the driver and issuing relevant PPE to all staff on request.”

Uber: Drivers and passengers will continue to be required to wear a mask in its vehicles. Ash Kebriti, UK general manager for the firm, said: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our drivers and the riders who use the Uber app.

“As cities continue to open up, we will ensure that face coverings or masks continue to be a mandatory requirement, unless exempt, when travelling with Uber across the UK.”

Supermarkets

All of the major supermarkets are continuing to ask customers to wear face coverings when visiting its stores in England.

You can see the full list of rules in each supermarket here, which are also keeping other Covid-secure measures in place.

GP surgeries

Patients will continue to be asked to wear masks and socially distance when visiting medical practices across the Black Country and Staffordshire.

Lynn Millar, director of primary care for the Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “The Covid pandemic is still with us and there continues to be transmission in the community. It is therefore vital that we continue to protect each other. GP practices, like other healthcare settings, will continue to make infection control measures a priority.

"This will include asking people to social distance and to wear face coverings where possible. We would ask patients to understand that this is for their benefit.”

That was echoed by Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, who added: ""Throughout the pandemic our GPs have succeeded in keeping staff and patients safe from Covid-19, and after 19 July we will continue to ask that when visiting your GP surgery you wear a face covering, as well as following any other safety measures on the premises. This is not just to protect you, but also other patients, our staff and services who may be more vulnerable."

Hospitals

Masks and social distancing rules will also remain in all hospitals across the region as they follow Public Health England's infection prevention control guidelines and hospital visiting guidance.

NHS visitor guidance will remain, with patients and visitors expected to continue to socially distance, wear face coverings and other personal protection equipment.

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