Full guidance for wearing face masks and other kinds of face coverings in shops in England have now been released, under 12 hours before the new rules are put in place
Face masks and over coverings will be of mandatory use within enclosed public spaces, which includes supermarkets, transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, post offices and banks.
They must also be used when people are buying takeaway food and drink, although they are permitted to be removed in a seating area. Those who break these new rules could face fines of up to £100.
There are exemptions for children that are under the age of 11, people with disabilities or specific health conditions, which includes respiratory or cognitive impairments that make it difficult for them to wear a face covering.
This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Members of Parliaments that there was “no smoking gun” in the now-released Russia report, as opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed that the Prime Minister “sat on” the “extremely serious” report.
The government has been accused of giving mixed messages over takeaways, and trade bodies, as well as Members of parliament saying that there had been some confusion about how the new rules could apply.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “If you are in a premises where you are able to sit down and consume food or drink that you have bought, then you can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink on site.”
Speaking of the guidance that had published, Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, said that the messaging from the government has been contradictory and it was “very late in the day” for the guidance to be confirmed.”
“It’s really unhelpful to have that confusion because the single biggest thing we need now is to rebuild consumer confidence and that needs clear, unambiguous messaging,” she told BBC Breakfast on Thursday.
The criticism comes after ministers and the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson contradicted each other on how the rules would apply to sandwich shops and takeaways.
Wearing a face covering will not be made mandatory in other establishments that have measures in place to protect staff and the public from COVID-19 including:
- Eat-in restaurants and pubs
- Hairdressers and other treatment salons
- Gyms and leisure centres
- Cinemas, concert halls and theatres
Face masks have been compulsory in shops throughout Scotland since the 10th of July. Customers are not currently required to wear them in Wales or Northern Ireland, although this is being considered.
Matt Hancock announced that on the 14th of July wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets would be required from Friday, the 24th of July, with those failing to comply potentially facing a fine of up to £100.
This comes after ministers reportedly “did not want to know” if Russia had meddled in the EU referendum vote, an MP says, as the government dismisses an investigation.
Dame Cressida Dick, the Met Commissioner, has said that police in London would only be enforcing the wearing of coverings in shops “as a last resort” – if people not wearing a covering refused to leave a shop or became “aggressive”.