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UK government updates policy on face coverings

Sadiyah Ismailjee
24 July 2020

The British government has updated its guidance on the compulsory wearing of face masks/coverings in enclosed public spaces, which will be implemented today.

The more detailed guidance verifies that face coverings will be mandatory for all customers in enclosed public spaces such as indoor shopping centres, stores, takeaways and the bank.

Children under the age of 11 and individuals with disabilities or breathing problems will not be required to wear a mask.

The guidance came less than 12 hours before the policies come into force and highlights the responsibility to wear a face covering “sits with the individuals”.

Individuals are expected to wear a face covering before entering any store and keeping it on until they leave.

In restaurants which provide a seating area in which you can eat and drink, members of the public are permitted to remove their face masks in this area only.

Wearing a face covering will also not be made mandatory in venues such as pubs, hairdressers, salons, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.

Public members who fail to follow the new guidelines risk a £100 fine.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “As we move into the next stage of easing restrictions for the public, it is vital we continue to shop safely so that we can make the most of our fantastic retail industry this summer.

“Everyone must play their part in fighting this virus by following this new guidance. I also want to thank the British public for all the sacrifices they are making to help keep this country safe.”

Director of business and regulation at the BRC, Tom Ironside highlighted that retailers were doing "all they can" to support the required safety measure, and will "play their role in communicating and encouraging the government’s new policy on face coverings."

“While enforcement of this policy will be handled by the police, the ultimate responsibility remains with customers who must ensure that they wear a face covering when going into stores. Our shopping experience is changing, and we ask customers to be respectful and considerate when the new rules come into force."

The measure applies to England only, where the wearing of face coverings on public transport is already mandatory. Scotland has already made the wearing of face coverings mandatory on public transport and in stores, while Wales is introducing the measure on public transport.

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