Face covering in shops to be made mandatory - and those without them could be fined
- Credit: PA
Wearing face covering in shops and supermarkets is to be made mandatory in a fresh bid to quell the spread of Covid-19, the government is set to announce.
In a statement on Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock will say anyone failing to comply with the order - which comes into force on July 24 - could face a fine of up to £100.
The move follows a weekend of confusion over whether ministers intended to make face coverings compulsory after Boris Johnson said they were looking at “stricter” rules.
Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement by Mr Hancock, a No 10 spokesman 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.”
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The move will bring England into line with Scotland, where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.
The government has been urging people to wear face coverings in confined spaces such as shops since early May and they have already been made compulsory on public transport in England since mid-June.
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The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, with a maximum fine of £100 - reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.
Enforcement of the regulations will be the responsibility of the police.
While shop workers will be asked to encourage compliance, retailers and businesses will not be expected to enforce them.
As is the case on public transport, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the government needed to issue detailed guidance on the new requirement “as soon as possible”.
“Businesses need clarity on the approach to the wearing of face coverings that is consistent and supported by public health evidence,” said BCC co-executive director Claire Walker.
“Updated guidance, including on enforcement, should be issued swiftly so firms can maintain their Covid-secure status and continue their operations successfully.”