CORONAVIRUS: Public information

1 May 2020

Get the most up-to-date public information about Covid-19 (coronavirus) on the NHS website.

Face coverings required from 15 June

From Monday 15 June, you will need to wear a face covering when you come to hospitals or outpatient clinics.

If you are coming to hospital as a visitor or for planned outpatient care, it is important that you wear a face covering at all times. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff. 

Face coverings can be purchased online or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website.

Please plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible, but if you do not have one available when you come to hospital, we will provide you with one for the duration of your visit. 

If you are currently shielding and have been provided with a surgical face mask for your appointments, please continue to use this. If you have not been provided with a surgical face mask, you should wear a face covering.

For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered.

Exceptions to the new rules include:

  • If a patient needs to have their face examined by a clinician. The patient should not remove their covering until instructed to by a clinician 
  • Young children under the age of 2 
  • Anyone with breathing or developmental difficulties 
  • Anyone who experiences genuine discomfort or distress while wearing a face covering (this includes people with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or autism who cannot put on or wear a face covering without severe distress)
  • Anyone unable to remove their covering/mask without assistance 
  • Women in labour.

All visitors will be expected to comply with existing social distancing and hand hygiene measures in addition to the face coverings while in the hospital setting.

We are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect those who are most vulnerable. 

Some services are working in different ways, such as using phone or video consultations. Others have provided additional downloadable and online resources to support you at this time. Please see individual service pages for more information.


What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of or change in smell or taste

Stay at home as much as possible

It's still very important to stay at home as much as possible. You should work from home if you can.

When outside your home, it's important to try to stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with, unless they are part of your 'social bubble'.

If you are visiting a healthcare setting or travelling on public transport, you should wear a face covering at all times.

There is separate advice about:

Information for people most at risk from Covid-19

NHS England has produced an information sheet and Frequently Asked Questions for people considered to be at highest clinical risk from coronavirus (Covid-19) who have been told to 'sheild' themselves.

Sheilding means staying at home at all times and avoiding all face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.

Background and FAQs for patients 

Stop the virus from spreading

There are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading. The best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is by good hand hygiene and regular hand washing. Everyone is advised to wash hands more often, especially:

  • when you get to work or arrive home

  • after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze

  • before you eat or handle food

You should wash your hands for 20 seconds, using soap and water or hand sanitiser.

You should also:

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean 

  • try to avoid contact with people who are unwell.

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