Face coverings mandatory for hospital visitors and outpatients in England from June 15
5 June 2020, 17:27 | Updated: 5 June 2020, 18:23
Hospital visitors and outpatients in England will need to wear face coverings from June 15, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
Mr Hancock said it is “critically important” to stop the spread of coronavirus in hospital settings, adding that all hospital staff will be required to wear surgical masks from the same date.
He told the daily Downing Street press conference: "As the NHS reopens right across the country, it's critically important to stop the spread amongst staff, patients and visitors too.
"So today we're setting out that all hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings.
"One of the things that we've learnt is that those in hospital, those who are working in hospital, are more likely to catch coronavirus whether they work in a clinical setting or not.
"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 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 hospital, it will apply at all times - not just when they are doing life-saving work on the frontline - and it will apply in all areas, except those areas designated as Covid-secure workplaces."
Mr Hancock told the daily briefing the Government was upgrading the guidance to ensure that "even as the virus comes under control" hospitals are a place of "care and of safety".
"We've also strengthened infection control in care homes and we're working with the social care sector on how this approach can apply appropriately in social care too.
"It's about protecting the NHS and social care, which means protecting our colleagues who work in the NHS and in social care."
Mr Hancock said the severe death toll will make him "redouble" his determination to deal with coronavirus.
The Health Secretary told the Downing Street briefing: "I think the day that the number of deaths from coronavirus has gone over 40,000 is a time of sorrow for us all.
"We've got to remember that each one of these is an impact on a family that will never be the same again and my heart goes out to them all.
"And it makes me redouble my determination to deal with this virus and to get that incidence right down and the way you get the incidence down is... to keep the R below one."