Who does and doesn’t have to wear face coverings in shops?
- Credit: PA
A range of anomalies have emerged over the new rules on face coverings in shops.
The headline of the announcement has been that everyone must wear one - but shop staff are exempt as well as children aged 10 years old or younger and those with “certain disabilities.”
And environment secretary George Eustice said while the mandatory use of face masks in England would apply to “all shops”, they would not be compulsory in cafes, pubs and restaurants.
He said: “We’re not for instance mandating the wearing of masks in pubs and restaurants, because obviously people have got to eat.
“We’ve been evolving the measures we’ve had as we come out of lockdown and we’ve been strengthening the guidance progressively on masks making it mandatory first on public transport and now we’re going to that next step to make it mandatory in retail environments.”
In relation to shop staff, Mr Eustice said: “They’re not being covered by this but I think if you go into most shops you will see that staff for a longer time now have either been wearing face shields or face masks.
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“It won’t be a compulsory requirement because it won’t always be right for every setting in a retail environment, particularly those working behind the tills and so on.”
When the law comes into force the burden of enforcing it will fall upon the police, though forces are not yet sure what their exact role would be.
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A Norfolk Police spokesperson said: “The new legislation was announced [on Monday] and we are currently working out exactly what it means for our organisation and our officers.”
Those who flout the new rule could face a fine of £100, which would be halved if paid within 14 days.
Urging the public to “play their part and to abide by these restrictions”, Mr Eustice said retailers and shoppers have responsibilities before the police will be asked to step in.
“Of course retailers have been very responsible in the way they’re approaching this challenge, they will have a role to play in making sure there’s compliance.
“But when it comes to that final sanction of issuing a penalty, that is something only the police can do.”