THE trust which runs Basingstoke hospital has announced that it will remain compulsory to wear a face mask in its hospitals after July 19 when Covid rules are relaxed.

From Monday, it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear a face mask inside.

However, hospitals, GPs and other health providers will still be able to require patients and visitors to wear masks unless they are exempt, after Public Health England (PHE) said existing guidance on Covid infection control will continue beyond July 19, when restrictions are lifted across the country.

The guidance also recommends physical distancing of two metres and thorough hand hygiene, and gives GP surgeries and hospitals the go-ahead to continue with virtual appointments after July 19.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) which runs Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester hospitals has announced that wearing a face mask will still be required.

The trust posted a photograph of Janet, a patient at Basingstoke hospital, on social media to help spread the message, with her holding up signs saying: ‘Let’s keep doing our bit’ and ‘Wearing a face mask keeps me safe’.

The trust said: “Wearing a face mask in our hospitals will still be required to help keep our patients and staff safe, even after guidance changes in other settings.”

Basingstoke hospital has now installed face mask dispensers after it was criticised for forcing visitors and patients to pick up a surgical face mask from an uncovered pile at its entrances.

It is mandatory for visitors and patients to wear a surgical face mask when inside a HHFT hospital.