Mandatory face coverings in shops in England | Will Northern Ireland be next?
From 24 July in England, it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets, as well as on public transport.
Exemptions include young children, people with breathing difficulties and people living with a disability.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock spoke about plans to make face coverings mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July 2020.
In his speech on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said: “In recent weeks, we have reopened retail and footfall is rising. We want to give people more confidence to shop safely, and enhance protections for those who work in shops.
“Both of these can be done by the use of face coverings. Sadly, sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disproportionately in this crisis.
“The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher among men, and 60% higher among women than in the general population. So as we restore shopping, so we must keep our shopkeepers safe.
“There is also evidence that face coverings increase confidence in people to shop.
The British Retail Consortium has said that together with other social distancing measures, face coverings can make shoppers feel even more confident about returning to the high street. And the Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses has said that small firms know that mandatory face coverings have a part to play, and I quote, “in the nation’s recovery both physically and financially”… And that he is “sure this [measure] will be welcomed”.
“We have therefore come to the decision that face coverings should be mandatory in shops and supermarkets.
“Last month, we made face coverings mandatory on public transport and in NHS settings.
“This has been successful in giving people more confidence to go on public transport and to a hospital setting when they need to.
“Providing people with additional protection when they are not able to keep 2 metres from others, particularly people they do not normally come into contact with.
“Under the new rules, people who do not wear a face covering will face a fine of up to £100, in line with the sanction on public transport and just as with public transport, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
“The liability for wearing a face covering lies with the individual.
“Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply, the police have the formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.
“This is in line with how shops would normally manage their customers and enforcement is of course a last resort, and we fully expect the public to comply with the rules as they have done throughout the pandemic.”