Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces new face coverings guidance for NHS staff, hospital visitors and outpatients
From Monday 15 June, hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings and NHS staff will be required to wear surgical masks.
Speaking during the daily government briefing at Downing Street, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that as the NHS starts to reopen across the country, it is "critically important to stop the spread of the virus amongst staff, patients and visitors too."
Explaining the new guidance, Mr Hancock said: "All hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings. One of the things we've learnt is that those in hospital, those who are working in hospitals are more likely to catch coronavirus whether they work in a clinical setting or not."
Referring to NHS staff in particular, he added: "To offer even greater protection, we're also providing new guidance for NHS staff in England which will come into force on June 15 and all hospital staff will be required to wear type one or two surgical masks and this will cover all staff working in hospitals.
"It will apply at all times, not just when they're doing their life-saving work on the frontline. It'll apply in all areas except those areas designated as Covid secure workplaces. Where the PPE guidance requires more stringent protection, that still remains."
During the briefing, Mr Hancock said that the government was "working with the social care sector on how the latest safety approach can apply appropriately in social care too."
The announcement comes a day after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said members of the public will be required to wear face coverings if travelling on public transport.
People could be refused travel and even fined if they are not wearing a face covering.
Mr Shapps said: “I can announce that as of Monday June 15 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. There will be exemptions to these rules for very young children, for disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.”
He added: “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 – albeit limited – protection against the spread for the virus.”