Mandatory Face Coverings for Transport Hubs Update

Our Ref: HSR/1/3
Head Office Circular: NP/186/20
24th July 2020
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


Further to HO Circular NP/184/20, issued yesterday, further information has been received from the Department for Transport (DfT) regarding the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings in England being extended from on trains, buses and ferries to now also include transport hubs such as stations.

Please note that although similar regulations already apply in Scotland, they do not yet do so in Wales. However, from Monday 27 July three-layer face coverings will be mandatory for passengers on all public transport in Wales - buses, trains, and taxis (not, however, in enclosed public spaces such as transport hubs).

Face coverings are now mandatory in additional enclosed public spaces – including shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs. Venues such as restaurants, pubs and gyms will be exempt.

Under the new regulations laid today, members of the public will need to wear face coverings – for example, a fabric covering, scarf or bandana – that covers the nose and mouth in additional enclosed public spaces, as well as frequent hand washing and careful social distancing.

There is evidence to suggest that, when used correctly, face coverings may reduce the likelihood of someone with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic.

For transport hubs in England, the requirements mean face coverings must be worn in indoor train stations and terminals, airports, maritime ports, and indoor bus and coach stations or terminals.

Passengers who do not abide by the regulations – and is not exempt under one of the categories set out in the regulations – could face a fine by the police of up to £100, as is currently the case on public transport. The police have been very clear throughout the pandemic that they will “engage, explain, encourage and finally enforce as a last resort”.

The regulations, made under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984, will include powers for the police to enforce the requirement to wear a face covering.

Those with the following circumstances are exempt from wearing a face covering, regardless of the venue:

children under the age of 11
those with disabilities or the following health conditions:
breathing difficulties and other respiratory conditions
conditions affecting their dexterity, meaning they are not able to put on a face covering
mental health conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders
other non-visible disabilities such as autism
cognitive impairments, including dementia, who may not understand or remember the need to wear a face covering
visual impairments, with a restricted field of vision, particularly if any residual vision is at the lower edge of the normal field of view
impairments which would make it difficult to put on or take off a face covering safely, accurately, consistently or without pain.

This list of exemptions is not exhaustive and extends to anyone with justifiable reason for not wearing one on the grounds of health or disability. Also, individuals do not need to wear a face covering if they have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
in order to take medication
if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering.
if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication.

On enforcement in transport hubs, transport and hub operators will be expected to remind passengers of the law and if necessary ask people to leave a transport hub if they are not wearing a face covering. It will be for the Police (and British Transport Police on the rail network) to enforce £100 fixed-term penalties, or remove people from services.  Transport for London (TfL) will have the same enforcement and prosecution powers in TfL transport hubs as they currently have in TfL carriages. 

I will keep members appraised of any updates.

Please make the contents of this Circular available to all appropriate members.

Yours Sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary