New rules requiring shoppers to wear face coverings in England take effect from today, Friday 24 July 2020.
The mandatory requirements apply within enclosed public spaces such as supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and takeaways.
Under 11s and those with certain disabilities are exempt.
The new rules do not apply to retail staff, although the government’s guidance strongly recommends they are used.
Failure to follow the new rules can result in a £100 fine. This will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Police will have powers to enforce the new rules and impose fines and will be able to “use force” to remove customers from shops if they do not wear face coverings, as well as prevent them from entering, according to the College of Policing.
Police forces have advised they will only enforce the rules, including issuing £100 fines, as a last resort, and that officers will not be patrolling premises.
Guidance issued by the government on Thursday 23 July states that staff in premises where face coverings are required are encouraged to take steps “to promote compliance with the law” and can refuse entry to people who do not have a valid exemption under the rules.
The changes bring England in line with Scotland and other countries in Europe such as Spain and Germany.
Shoppers in Wales and Northern Ireland are not currently required to wear face coverings, although both countries have said this will be kept under review.
On announcing the new rules, environment Secretary George Eustice said that wearing face coverings in shops is an “appropriate mitigation” against the “overall risk” of the coronavirus but the rule would not work in pubs, cafes or restaurants.
Face coverings have been mandatory on public transport in England since 15 June.
Masks will not be mandatory in indoor venues that have other safety measures in place, including:
- Eat-in restaurants
- Hairdressers and salons
- Gyms and leisure centres
- Cinemas, concert halls and theatres
- Visitor attractions such as museums