Coronavirus: Face masks and coverings to be compulsory in England’s shops
Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July.
Those who fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £100, the government has announced.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it would “give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops”.
The move will bring England into line with Scotland and other major European nations like Spain, Italy and Germany.
Since mid-May, members of the public have been advised to wear coverings in enclosed public spaces, where they may encounter people they would not usually meet.
Mask-wearing has been compulsory on public transport in England and at NHS facilities across the UK since 15 June.
Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
Mr Hancock told the Commons: “The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.”
He added: “There is also evidence that face coverings increase confidence in people to shop.”
The new rule will not apply to retail staff.
It comes as the UK recorded the deaths of a further 138 people who had tested positive for coronavirus.
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The latest rules for shops will be enforced by the police, with anyone disregarding them at risk of a fine of up to £100. This will be reduced to £50 if the fine is paid within 14 days.
“A shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if they refuse to comply,” Mr Hancock said.
Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said police should only be involved as a “last resort”.