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 and continue to have some freedom to enjoy and experience NewcastleGateshead - it became mandatory to wear face masks in multiple settings.

Since Monday 19 July 2021 - all restrictions have been lifted by the national government, changing the status from mandatory or legal requirements to advise and personal caution. 

Newcastle and Gateshead local authority have announced their guidelines which include the polite request that the public continue to wear masks when in busy, indoor and crowded environments like shops and public transport:

  • Be considerate – continue wearing a face covering indoors – particularly in crowded areas – and on public transport to protect others, including our frontline workers who we all rely on
  • Be cautious – the pandemic is not over, and continuing to wash hands, wear face coverings, keep your distance and meet outdoors when you can will help to prevent the virus spreading
  • Be kind – many people may still feel anxious about changes to restrictions, be mindful of how others may still want to distance and wear face coverings

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

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

Government guidelines around wearing face coverings has changed from a legal requirement to recommendation or advise. This advise is mainly to do with indoor spaces and in particular, if you are using public transport in England. A face covering is a covering of any type which covers your nose and mouth.

However, wearing a face mask or covering is still a condition of travel 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. NewcastleGateshead local buses - including Go North East also recommend you wear a mask when travelling on the bus around the region but it is not mandatory.  

It is recommended that you wear a 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 be advised to wear face coverings.

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

It is not a legal requirement but may still be a condition of travel from some taxi and private hire companies.

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. Please 

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

It is recommended to wear a face mask or sufficient scarf covering over your nose and mouth in shops and supermarkets across England to help prevent the spread of the virus and protect the staff.

Shoppers visiting indoor shopping centres like Metrocentre, are also strongly advised to wear a face covering.  

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

Many of the 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 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 when I visit an attraction?

As with the other examples, it is still only recommended but considered a great way to exercise caution and prevent the spread of coronavirus. Therefore, it is recommended to wear a mask inside in the following types of businesses including attractions, spa and beauty venues and entertainment venues in England.  

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 buy face masks in Newcastle? 

If you don't fancy making your own face covering then you can buy fabric face masks* from a wide range of supermarkets, fashion shops and pharmacists across the city. 

If you want to make a fashion statement - designer, independent shop JulesB in Jesmond are selling high quality, reusable face masks online for men, women and children. 

*Please note that these are not medical grade mask.

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.