Shoppers without face coverings risk £100 fine
Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that face coverings must be worn in shops and supermarkets in England from next Friday.
Enforcement of the new law will be carried out by police – not retail staff – and anyone in a shop without a face covering will be subject to a fine of up to £100, which reduces to £50 if paid within 14 days.
The law will require people to wear simple cloth face coverings, rather than the medical grade masks used by frontline NHS workers. Passengers on public transport have been required to cover their faces since 15 June.
Only young children or those with certain disabilities will be exempt from the new regulations.
The wearing of face coverings in shops became compulsory in Scotland last week. Elsewhere approximately 120 countries including Spain, Germany, Italy and Greece also require coverings to be worn in public places.
The decision, which will be outlined by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in a Commons statement on Tuesday afternoon, follows days of confusing statements from ministers and conflicting professional advice. Opposition MPs have demanded clarity.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.
“The prime minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24.”
Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “All small firms that are planning to or have already opened back up again have the health and safety of their employees as well as customers at the very forefront of their minds
“Businesses are already introducing screens, cleaning more regularly and engaging in a contact-free way where possible, and many are already making use of facemasks for staff.
“Facemasks and coverings can provide a certain level of protection to people you come into close contact with, which could help to stop the spread of the disease and to help get back to business as soon as possible.”