Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Ministers asked to make face coverings on public transport compulsory

Facemasks Image copyright AFP

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon will ask the Northern Ireland Executive on Thursday to make the wearing of face coverings compulsory on all public transport.

Ministers will be asked to approve a paper setting out how the measure will be introduced and enforced.

The BBC understands the move, if approved, will be in force from 3 July.

It is understood guidance will be issued to staff ahead of that date.

At present, the executive recommends they are worn in shops and on public transport, where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.

The Republic of Ireland's Transport Minister Shane Ross is also due to bring a paper to the Irish Cabinet on Thursday seeking approval for the same move.

Ms Mallon held talks today with Translink and union officials.

It is believed the model of enforcement will be similar to measures introduced in Scotland with spot checks by police and fines for those breaking the rules.

Face coverings on public transport are now compulsory in England and Scotland.

Image copyright Niall Carson/PA
Image caption Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on a bus in Dublin city centre earlier this month, encouraging passengers to wear face masks on public transport

This is in line with new World Health Organization (WHO) advice. It says non-medical face coverings should be worn in public where social distancing is not possible.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Diane Dodds will also urge the relaxation of the 2m (6ft) social distancing rule in Northern Ireland when the executive meets on Thursday.

It comes days after the prime minister said England would move to "one metre plus" from 4 July, as its lockdown is eased.

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