Covid-19: Face coverings in shops to be compulsory from 24 July

Face coverings in shops and supermarkets will become mandatory in England from 24 July, the UK Government is expected to announced today. Those who fail to comply will face a fine of up to £100.

Since around mid-May, the government has only been advising people to wear masks when in enclosed public spaces and coming into contact with people they wouldn’t normally meet, but this has now been made compulsory. Face coverings have previously only been mandatory on public transport, a rule which has been in place since 15 June.

Speaking on this morning’s BBC Breakfast programme, Environment Secretary George Eustice revealed the new rules will not apply to retail staff, while children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will also be exempt. Eustice added: "It is about managing the overall risk. Any type of covering will be sufficient for this purpose."

Face coverings that will be considered sufficient include scarves and other textile items.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister commented: "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 24 July."

The move aims to help reduce the spread of virus, and may improve consumer confidence about visiting physical stores. A study last month found that a majority of UK consumers still believe the risk of the virus to be high, which could be reducing the potential impact of the reopening of non-essential shops in mid-June.

Data published yesterday showed that whilst high street footfall has been improved by the reopening of bars and restaurants from 4 July, it remains very low compared to last year.

Photo credit (iStock): ridvan_celik