All hospital visitors and outpatients will have to wear face coverings from mid-June, says Matt Hancock.
The Health Secretary told Friday’s Downing Street daily briefing that the government wanted to ensure that as the virus “comes under control” that hospitals are a place of “care and of safety”.
Mr Hancock said: “As the NHS reopens right across the country, it’s critically important to stop the spread amongst staff, patients and visitors too.
“So today we’re setting out that all hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings.
“One of the things that we’ve learnt is that those in hospital, those who are working in hospital, are more likely to catch coronavirus whether they work in a clinical setting or not.”
He said new guidance for NHS staff in England will come into force on June 15 with all hospital staff required to wear type one or two surgical masks.
The Secretary of State said it would apply at all times and “not just when they are doing life-saving work on the frontline”.
It will also apply in all areas except for places designated as “Covid-secure workplaces”.
He said the government has also strengthened infection control in care homes and they were working with the social care sector on how they can apply this in social care too.