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Face Coverings

You must wear a face covering when travelling on public transport or visiting transport hubs

Why do I need to wear a face covering on public transport?

When using public transport people may be more likely to be in enclosed spaces for longer periods of time where we know there is a greater risk of the spread of the virus and social distancing is likely to be difficult to follow consistently. This differs from enclosed spaces like shops, for example, where people can more easily go outside if social distancing is not possible and where shop owners can place limits on the number of customers allowed inside at any one time. 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.

When do I have to wear a face covering from?

From Monday 15 June you must wear a face-covering on any bus, train, tram, coach or plane journeys.

What is a transport hub?

The requirement to wear face coverings in transport hubs means  they must be worn in:

  • indoor train stations and terminals
  • airports
  • maritime ports
  • indoor bus and coach stations or terminals

Anyone who doesn’t abide by the regulations – and is not exempt under one of the categories set out in the regulations – could face a fine by the police of up to £100, as is the case on public transport.

I have a health condition or disability that means I can't wear a face-covering, what do I do?

The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to:

  • a child under the age of 11
  • an employee of the transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
  • any other person providing services to the transport operator, under arrangements made with the transport operator, who is providing those services
  • a constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
  • an emergency responder such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
  • an official, for example, a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
  • if you are allocated a cabin, berth or other similar accommodation, at any time when you are in that accommodation, either alone, or only with members of your own household or a linked household
  • if you are on board public transport but remain in your private vehicle, for example on a car ferry

The requirement to wear a face-covering also does not apply if you have reasonable grounds not to, these include: 

  • if you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip-reading to communicate
  • if you are travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm, and you do not have a face-covering with you
  • if you need to remove it during your journey to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • if you need to eat, drink, or take medication you can remove your face covering
  • if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official, for example, to check your railcard

Exemption Card

To support people with physical and mental health conditions, including those that are hidden, we have produced an assistance card which can be downloaded here. You can carry this card and if asked why you are not wearing a face covering you can show this to a staff member or fellow passenger.  

You can also download the image here and save to your phone to show if you don't have a printer. 

Or you can ask a member of staff at Coventry, Dudley, Walsall or West Bromwich bus stations for a printed card. They are also available at Wolverhampton and Birmingham New Street Travel Centres. 

Exemption Badge

To support people with physical and mental health conditions, we have also worked to produce a badge which can be worn on journeys.

This badge can be worn and shown to staff members or fellow passengers if asked why you are not wearing a face covering. 

To receive one, please complete the form.

What is an acceptable face covering?

A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.

Do not touch the front of the face-covering, or the part of the face-covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.

You should wash a face-covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.

When wearing a face covering, take care to tuck away any loose ends.

Face coverings are not the same as face masks. It is important that people do not use medical-grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline staff. 

Make your own face covering

You can follow government advice and make your own face covering by following the steps below:

An image describing how to make your own face covering

There are lots of tutorials on YouTube too, for example:

Tips for using your face covering
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
  • Don't touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose.
  • Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
  • You should wash a reusable face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.
  • When wearing a face covering, take care to tuck away any loose ends.
  • After travelling, please remember to take your face covering with you and/or dispose of it safely by placing it in the bin.
What will happen if people don’t wear a face covering?

You are not allowed to get on public transport if you are not wearing a face covering, unless you have a legitimate reason for not wearing one. Transport staff may tell you not to board or ask you to get off.

If you refuse to wear a face covering, you can receive a fine from the police or West Midlands Safer Travel enforcement officers. The fixed penalty notice will require you to pay £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days).

Why are staff members not wearing a face covering?

It is not a legal requirement for staff to wear a face covering. Only passengers. We understand this is confusing for some people and are working with the government around ways to help in this area. 

Each individual organisation has set out its own policy on face coverings with its staff as part of their cleaning and social distancing measures. 

How should I dispose of face coverings?

Please dispose of any face coverings, masks or gloves you may have used responsibly and safely. Do not leave them onboard services or at stops or stations.

If you are using a cloth face covering, as recommended, you can wash this with your normal laundry load. Use the warmest setting you can for the material used.

Advice for travelling during the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus Transport Updates


Find out about how COVID-19 is affecting transport across the West Midlands.

Click here