Coronavirus: Brits must wear face coverings in shops
Face coverings will become mandatory in shops across England, ministers are to announce on Tuesday.
After a sea of mixed messages, shoppers in England will be told to wear face coverings in supermarkets and all other shops from 24 July, with fines of up to £100 for those ignoring the new rule.
Enforcement of this will be by the police, though shop staff will be expected to encourage the policy as best they can.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, is expected to set out the measures when he addresses the House of Commons on Tuesday.
A cabinet split and mounting pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to change public advice on face coverings are thought to have brought about the decision.
Johnson himself wore a mask for the first time in public last week and urged the public in England to wear face coverings in shops as “extra insurance” against coronavirus.
While visiting the London Ambulance Service, he said: “The scientific evidence of face coverings, and the importance of stopping aerosol droplets, that’s been growing. So I do think that in shops it is very important to wear a face covering.”
Face coverings have been compulsory on public transport in England since 15 June and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon made the use of face coverings mandatory for all shoppers in Scotland on 10 July.
Instead of medical masks used by health and care workers, both the UK government and Nicola Sturgeon have stressed the importance of choosing cloth masks made from garments found at home, such as scarves and T-shirts. Finder has published a guide on how to make your own mask.
Mandatory face coverings apply only in Scotland and England for the moment; as devolved nations, Northern Ireland and Wales can set their own guidance. Government officials in both nations have strongly advised people to cover their faces where the two-metre rule cannot be maintained.
In all cases, the public has been warned that for face coverings to be effective, people must wash their hands before putting them on and taking them off and continue to social distance.
The coronavirus advice from Public Health England remains largely the same.
The guidelines are:
- Limit contact with other people and stay alert
- Keep your distance and if you go out, keep one metre plus away from others and wear a face covering
- Wash your hands regularly
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
Find out all you need to know about face coverings, including breaking news, on our mask hub.