Face masks will be mandatory in shops in England from 24 July

13 July 2020, 22:30

People could now be fined for not wearing a mask
People could now be fined for not wearing a mask. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Face masks will be mandatory in shops in England from 24 July, the government has announced.

In a statement on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will say anyone failing to comply with the order could face a fine of up to £100.

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."

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.

The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, with a maximum fine of £100, which will be reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.

The announcement comes after the Prime Minister said during a visit to meet members of the London Ambulance Service that he backed the use of face masks, saying "they have a great deal of value in confined spaces where you're coming into contact with people you don't normally meet."

The prime minister described face coverings as "extra insurance", while levels of Covid-19 continue to fall.

Face masks are already mandatory on public transport in England.

The move will bring England into line with Scotland, where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.

The Northern Ireland Executive has previously refused to rule out enforcing the same rule and in Wales, face masks will be compulsory on public transport from 27 July.

Boris Johnson has announced that face masks will be mandatory in shops in England
Boris Johnson has announced that face masks will be mandatory in shops in England. Picture: PA

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.

The senior Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday he did not believe they should be mandatory and that it was better to "trust people's common sense".

However, during a visit to the London Ambulance Service on Monday, the Prime Minister offered the clearest signal he was going down the route of compulsion, saying the Government was looking at the "tools of enforcement".

The government has confirmed that 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.

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