Over the last year or so, wearing face masks and coverings became the accessory we didn't see coming. In order for everyone to stay safe, slow the spread of coronavirus and continue to experience NewcastleGateshead - wearing a mask in multiple and typically, busy, indoor settings became a regular occurrence.

Mandatory requirements for when to wear face masks have been reintroduced across England by the government. These new measures were set in place from 30 November 2021 and updated from Friday 10 December 2021 in response to the Omicron variant:

  • Anyone shopping in NewcastleGateshead or using public transport will be required to wear a face mask.
  • People visiting places of worship, theatres and cinemas will also need to wear a mask.

People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, such as because of an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt.

Visit gov.uk here for the full list of places to wear a face mask.

Do I have to wear a face mask when using public transport in Newcastle or Gateshead?

Yes - it is now required by the government for everyone to wear a face covering when they are using public transport. A face covering is a covering of any type which covers your nose and mouth.

This includes wearing a mask or covering on the Tyne and Wear Metro system (Read more: Face coverings must be worn on the Metro) which includes its bus and ferries links too as well as when you are using NewcastleGateshead's local buses - including Go North East.

Please wear your face mask whilst waiting at any indoor transport hub too - for example, inside Haymarket and Eldon Square bus terminals or Newcastle Central Station.

Exemptions will be made for very young children, the disabled and those with breathing difficulties.

Staff working on public transport will continue to wear face coverings.

Do I have to wear a face mask in a taxi?

Yes - you need to wear a face mask when you are using a private taxi.

Do I have to wear a face mask when using Newcastle Airport?

Yes. All passengers must wear a face mask within the terminal building and whilst on their flight. If a passenger does not have a face mask there will be masks available in the terminal on arrival at Newcastle Airport. 

Do I need to wear a face mask when I am shopping?

New measurements were introduced on 30 November 2021 which state that yes, you must wear a face covering when you are shopping - this includes within shopping centres, malls and indoor markets. It is also mandatory to wear a mask in banks, post offices, hairdressers and other personal care services. It is also strongly advised that you consider wearing a face mask when you are visiting busy and crowded Christmas markets.

Do I need to wear a face mask in pubs and restaurants?

It is not mandatory to wear masks in any hospitality settings. However, many bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants have asked their visitors to continue to wear a face mask inside their venues when moving around to the toilet or when not sat at the table. You do not need to wear a mask once you are seated at your table to eat and drink. If you are popping in to collect a takeaway, a mask may still be required but at the discretion of the venue.

Staff in hospitality and retail will still wear wear face coverings for the time being.

Do I need to wear a face mask at a gig or concert?

Yes - if you are at a concert or gig, then you need to wear a face covering. 

Do I need to wear a face mask when I visit an attraction?

It is a legal requirement to wear masks if you are attending visitor attractions, entertainment venues, theatres, cinemas and sport stadiums. It is also mandatory to wear a mask in places of worship - so if you are going to attend a festive carol service at a church. 

Here is the government's full list of places you must wear a mask in England:

  • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, indoor theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, indoor areas at aquariums, zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, indoor theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
  • indoor areas of open-air sports stadiums

If in doubt - we recommend that you wear a face covering in all indoor venues as a great way to exercise caution and prevent the spread of coronavirus.  

How do I make a face mask?

The new guidance for the general public refers to face coverings - not surgical masks - which can easily be made at home. There are some helpful tips on how to make your own face mask on the BBC News website and the government have also issued suggestions on how to make face coverings from old t-shirts too. It is also advised that face masks are washed daily to prevent further infection.

Where can I find more information about wearing face masks in England?

For full guidelines on how to stay safe outside your home, including wearing face coverings, have a look at the government website here which is regularly updated and information is changing all the time.

It is still strongly advised that you maintain social distancing and regularly wash your hands as well as wearing your face masks. It is also important to wash or sanitise your hands before and after touching your face covering as well as ensuring you wash your face mask when you take it off.

Please check back for further information as guidelines around the coronavirus and staying safe outside you home continue to change and evolve.