UK coronavirus live: masks decision in England ‘in next few days’; Wales makes them compulsory on public transport

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Normally tens of thousands of Orangemen, loyalist marching bands and their supporters would be thronging the centre of Belfast part of their annual commemoration of King William’s victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne.

Central Belfast today remains eerily quiet with no mass parade through the city due to the pandemic.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland cancelled its annual demonstrations across not only Northern Ireland but also the Irish Republic because of the danger of crowds generating a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections.

Instead 248 mini parades, each with a single band playing, are “bring the Twelfth home” to loyalist housing estates, towns and villages across Northern Ireland today.

The Orange Order said up to 8,000 people will come to their doorsteps and front gardens today to watch the various parades.

After laying a wreath at the war memorial in Belfast City Hall this morning, the Orange Order’s Grand Secretary Mervyn Gibson said the loyal orders “want people to stay in their homes and let the music come to them.”

Normally around 100,000 people would come onto the streets on the Twelfth.The Twelfth by the way is being on 13 July this year because the 12 of July fell on a Sunday and the loyal orders do not parade on the Sabbath.

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Face coverings to be mandatory on public transport in Wales

It will be mandatory for people to wear face coverings on public transport including taxis in Wales from 27 July, the Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has said.

Drakeford said it would not be made mandatory to wear face coverings in other public places though some people might choose to wear them.

He said: “Public transport moves across our porous border with England. There, the use of face coverings is mandatory on public transport.

“And for the sake of simplicity and consistency, as well as being part of our plan to help reduce the risk of transmissions while on public transport where it is not possible to maintain a two-metre physical distance, it will become mandatory in Wales.”

Drakeford said if places were crowded, it was advisory to wear face coverings. In uncrowded places, it is up to the individual citizen, he said.

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