London, June 5 : Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in England from June 15 to help contain the transmission of the novel coronavirus, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
Chairing Thursday's Downing Street daily briefing, Shapps said people will be required to wear face coverings on buses, trains, tubes and other modes of public transport from June 15 as COVID-19 is still a "very real threat" and the "fight still goes on to defeat it", reports Xinhua news agency.
Noting that this measure is for England, he said he expects Scotland and Wales to introduce similar face coverings rule for rail passengers.
The measure was welcomed by many transport unions.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, a British trade union representing train drivers, said it is "a sensible step".
"The instruction to wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus will ease the concerns of people travelling, and working, on the transport network," said Whelan.
According to the Office for National Statistics, transport workers who have regular contact with members of the public are at particularly high risk of dying from coronavirus.
Bus drivers are more than twice as likely to die from coronavirus as average working-age men.
Shortly after Shapps' announcement, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, said that her government had already strongly advised the use of face masks on public transport and in shops.
"A reminder that @scotgov already strongly advises the use of face coverings in shops and public transport. As I said earlier today, we are considering making it mandatory.
"However, no need to wait for that -- please do it now (unless you have, eg, asthma)," she said on her Twitter account.
The UK currently continues in the second position after the US with 39,987 COVID-19 deaths, which also accounts for the highest fatalities in Europe.
The country has registered 283,079 COVID-19 cases.
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