Face coverings should be provided by the Government and not restricted to public transport, say doctors

The BMA also believes that the Government should ensure a supply of face coverings for the public.

James McKay
5 June 2020
Woman wearing surgical protective mask in a public transportation

People should avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive, if able.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has said that it is right people should be required to wear face coverings but it should be limited to when using public transport.

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Yesterday the government announced it will work with transport operators to make it mandatory for passengers to wear face coverings when using public transport in England.

They also recommend that people avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive, but admit for some people this may not be an option.

When using public transport people are more likely to be in enclosed spaces for longer periods of time, the government says this means there is a greater risk of virus spreading and admits that social distancing is likely to be difficult to follow consistently.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has set out that using face coverings in this setting can provide some small additional protection to fellow passengers and can help people to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus if they are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms.

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Important measures.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said; “The BMA recently advocated the wearing of face coverings by the public several weeks ago in areas where they cannot socially distance and believes it is right that people should be required to wear face coverings on public transport.

“Given there remains a considerable risk of infection, with thousands of new cases every day, wearing masks can reduce the spread of the virus. Not only will this afford greater protection to the public, importantly, it will protect the lives of the staff working on public transport who, as evidence suggests, are at greater risk of infection.

“These important measures should not be restricted to public transport but to all areas where social distancing is not always possible – the risk will be much less if the public adopts this now – not mid-June.

“The BMA believes that the Government should ensure a supply of face coverings for the public, similar to practices in other nations, as there will be circumstances where many individuals may not have the capacity to make them or may be unable to procure them when needed. It is vital that these face coverings are not the same as the medical-grade masks that have been in short supply and must be reserved for frontline staff whose job is dependent upon having them for adequate protection.

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“It is also essential that the Government ensures the public is adequately informed and educated on the proper use of face coverings and reinforces that this by no means reduces the importance of continued adherence to social distancing and proper hand hygiene.”

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