Monday 19 July 2021 11:07 am

Freedom Day: Where do I need to wear a face mask from today?

Across England, the final remaining coronavirus restrictions have been lifted. From today, people are no longer required by law to wear masks.

The government has said, however, that people will still be expected to wear face masks in certain situations while some businesses, travel operators and local politicians have said that masks will still be required to use services.

Confusing? For sure. Here we look at where you will need to wear face coverings from today.

Rules on masks in England

As the remaining restrictions in England were lifted this morning, people are no longer required by law to wear face coverings in certain settings.

But the latest guidance, issued last week, says the Government “expects and recommends” masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces such as public transport.

Does this mean that people will not need to carry masks with them anymore? It is probably best not to be too quick to throw away your mask.

Health leaders, local politicians, shop bosses and transport chiefs have all said that they will continue to require or encourage people to wear face coverings.

This means that face coverings may be required in some premises, on some bus and train services, hospitals and GP surgeries.

Do you need a mask to go to the shop?

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s on Wednesday said it would encourage all customers to continue wearing face coverings from 19 July if they can.

Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose have since come out to say they will also encourage customers and staff to continue wearing masks in their supermarkets from when restrictions ease.

Staff and customers at Waitrose and John Lewis have also been recommended to continue wearing masks but the John Lewis Partnership said it will ultimately be up to individual judgment.

Hospital or GP appointment

Staff, patients and visitors in all NHS settings must continue to wear face coverings and observe social distancing, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

PHE said infection prevention measures and visiting guidance are set to continue across all health services including hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies, to ensure patients and staff are protected.

Staff, patients and visitors will be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting any care setting, as well as using face coverings and other personal protection equipment.

How about public transport?

Face coverings will continue to be compulsory in some locally operated public transport spaces.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also said face coverings will be required on Transport for London (TfL) services as a “condition of carriage”.

This means enforcement officers would be able to deny access or eject passengers found to be non-compliant while using the TfL network.

Face coverings will also remain compulsory on Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram services and the Heathrow Express.

What about other transport providers?

Cross-Channel train firm Eurostar and airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair will continue to require passengers to wear face coverings from 19 July, while Heathrow Airport said that face-coverings will continue to be mandatory.

But the train industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) announced that all domestic train operators, such as Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, will not require passengers to wear face coverings.

It 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.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents major bus and coach operators such as National Express and Megabus, has also said that its members will not mandate the wearing of face coverings from today.

So different rules in different parts of the country?

Elected regional mayors across England have warned that without a continued national mandate there would be a “ridiculous mismatch” of rules across the country that will be “confusing” for passengers.

The Labour metro mayors for West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, West of England and South Yorkshire have urged the Government to continue to make face coverings compulsory on all public transport beyond the lifting of restrictions.

Scotland and Wales

In Wales, face coverings will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport when coronavirus restrictions are lifted next month, while in Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said face covering measures are likely to remain for “some time to come”.

Wales plans to lift all coronavirus measures from 7 August, but it will remain the law to wear a face mask on public transport and in most indoor settings.

The Welsh Government will lift the requirement for people to wear masks as soon as the public health situation allows, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

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