Face masks to be compulsory for all hospital visitors, patients and staff, Health Secretary reveals
All NHS staff in hospitals in England will be required to wear a face mask (PA)
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced all NHS staff in England will need to wear surgical-grade masks from 15 June to reduce transmission of coronavirus in hospitals.
The updated guidance comes a day after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said face coverings would be compulsory for anyone using public transport.
Mr Hancock said it was “critically important” to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among people in hospitals.
“One of the things that we’ve learned 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,” he added.
“And so to offer even greater protection we’re also providing new guidance for NHS staff in England which will come into force again on the 15th June.
“All hospital staff will be required to wear Type 1 or 2 surgical masks. And this will cover all staff working in hospitals.
“It will apply at all times, not just the lifesaving work on the frontline. It will apply in all areas except those areas designated as Covid secure workplaces.
“And where the PPE guidance recommends more stringent protection, of course, that remains in place.”
The minister also reiterated that the general public should not be wearing surgical-grade masks on public transport and that any face covering would suffice.
The Government has previously faced scrutiny for its failure to supply adequate personal protective equipment to frontline workers.
In April, unions warned that the shortage was a “crisis within a crisis” that was forcing healthcare workers to “risk their lives”.
Ministers also faced criticism this week for their decision to require masks on transport but not in shops, many of which are set to reopen later this month.
The 15 June date marks the next phase in the Government’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions, with non-essential retailers permitted to open provided they have taken steps to ensure social distancing.