Transport for London are going to hand out free face masks at the busiest Tube and bus stations to help customers follow new rules stating face coverings must be worn on public transport.

New Government guidance means that from Monday, June 15, face coverings must be worn for the full duration of journeys on the public transport network, with exemptions for very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.

Face coverings can be simple cloth, even homemade, as long as they cover the nose and mouth, and must be worn on trains, buses and the Tube.

TfL said that it estimates that, at present, between 30% and 50% of public transport users are already wearing face coverings, whilst customers are still advised to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary.

But to help customers adjust to the new rules, TfL is piloting the "temporary distribution of free face coverings at a selection of Tube and bus stations that have typically seen higher numbers of customers travelling throughout the lockdown period."

The free face masks will be handed out from this coming Monday, June 8, and should only be used for a single journey.

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The programme is expected to run over the next couple of weeks - with volunteers from TfL and the Greater London Authority (GLA) safely distributing them to customers who need them.

Alternatively, face coverings can be purchased at a number of local shops or online or made at home.

TfL's police partners will continue to support TfL and its operators and, from 15 June, will help customers to comply with the requirement to wear a face covering when on public transport.

The latest scientific advice suggests that, although face coverings are unlikely to prevent an individual from catching the coronavirus, they can help prevent someone who is infected from infecting others and therefore help control the virus.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was "pleased the Government has finally seen sense and made it mandatory for people to wear face coverings on public transport."

"I encourage anyone travelling on public transport, or anywhere you can't keep a safe two-metre distance, to wear a face covering, but from Monday 15 June, everyone must wear a covering over their nose and mouth for the entirety of any journeys made using the public transport network.

"This will be mandatory and will help everyone be safer."

He added: "I want to thank Londoners who have made monumental sacrifices over the last ten weeks and stuck to the rules. I urge them to continue to do so to help save lives."

TfL is working towards running normal services as soon as possible, despite staff being ill, shielding or self-isolating, and is already running over 85 per cent of Tube services and 85 per cent of bus services.

However, even with full services running, public transport will only be able to carry 13-15 per cent of normal passenger numbers while the recommend two-metre social distancing remains.

The Mayor's Streetspace for London programme is therefore aimed at supporting the millions more journeys that will need to be made by walking and cycling.