Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Face coverings to become mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July
The Government has confirmed that wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July.
It has additionally been confirmed that those who fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £100.
Here’s all the information that has been provided so far:
- Face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from Friday 24 July
- The penalty will be a fine of up to £100 for failing to comply
- Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
- It is already mandatory to wear a face covering at all times on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient. Hospitals will be able to provide a face covering in emergencies.
- Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse people entry for not wearing a face covering and can call the police if people refuse to comply.
READ MORE: See all of our guidance in relation to Coronavirus
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Said: “Wearing a face covering does not mean that we can ignore the other measures that have been so important in slowing the spread of this virus— washing our hands and following the rules on social distancing. Just as the British people have acted so selflessly throughout this pandemic, I have no doubt they will rise to this once more.
“The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine. That is in line with how shops would normally manage their customers and enforcement is, of course, a last resort. We fully expect the public to comply with these rules, as they have done throughout the pandemic.
Face coverings do not replace social distancing. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, and/or high temperature, and/or loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste - anosmia), you and your household must isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.
Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.
A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.
Face coverings are now required to be worn in any shops, including food shops and supermarkets, but are not required in hospitality settings, including restaurants with table service, bars, and pubs.
They are also not required in entertainment venues (such as cinemas or casinos), visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums), exercise and sports venues (such as gyms).
In settings where face coverings are required in England, there are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, where people are not expected to wear face coverings. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):
- young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
- in order to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
- if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
- if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, the purpose of assessing health recommendations, such as a pharmacist, or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
- if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.
Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this. Written evidence includes exemption cards.
You can make face-coverings at home. The key thing is it should cover the mouth and nose.