Face masks made compulsory in shops – everything you need to know
- Credit: Archant
The government has announced it will soon be mandatory to wear face coverings in shops in England in an attempt to further stop the spread of coronavirus.
Here is what you need to know ahead of the new rules.
What are the rules for face masks?
Face coverings – which are more commonly known as face masks – are currently only mandatory when travelling on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient.
However, the government has announced that face coverings will soon be compulsory in shops – with the new measures brought in later this month.
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Until then, the Department of Health guidance states: “If you can, you should also wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.”
Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of three or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly.
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When do I need to start wearing a face mask in shops?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced in the Commons this afternoon that customers must wear some form of face covering while in shops in England from Friday, July 24.
He 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.
Mr Hancock said shopkeepers “can refuse entry” to people not wearing coverings and said police enforcement would be the “last resort” after the Police Federation of England and Wales pressed on the issues.
Police will be able to issue those who breach the new guidelines with a fine of £100, which would be halved if paid within 14 days.
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”.
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 move will bring England into line with Scotland, where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.
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.
What is the best type of face mask?
The key thing is that a face mask should cover both the mouth and nose.
The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items, as long as they cover these two areas.
Official advice says face coverings should allow the wearer to breathe comfortably and be tied behind the head to provide a “snug fit”.
MORE: Face masks – where to buy them, how to make your own and when you should wear oneIt is also important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
You can make face coverings at home and there are hundreds of tutorials online of how to create them; using things such as an old t-shirt, socks, bandanas or scarves.
What are the best places to buy face masks in Suffolk?
The government has issued advice on how to make your own coverings at home - but many people don’t feel confident about doing this and would prefer to buy masks. Here are some of the options.
• Sew Soft Furnishing: This independent business, in Capel St Mary, has home-made masks available in a range of different patterns, with a huge choice of fabrics, in sizes for adults and children. They are priced at £5 and made in two layers from 100% cotton, and are washable and reusable, with a pocket in the top, so you can insert your own filter.
Owner Claire Pike said: “There has been a lot of interest in the masks, especially since the announcement that people would have to wear them on public transport. We are offering them with a choice of ties or elastic.”
• Bev’s Eco Products: This company, based in Woodbridge, is also creating masks for the community. For every mask you buy, another one will be sewn and donated to a key worker or vulnerable person in the community. Masks are double-layered and made from quality cotton, with filter pocket and nose wire, and are available in different sizes and fabrics, priced at £10. It is also possible to order a mask kit for £4.
• Vanners Silk Weavers: Based in Sudbury, Vanners is selling non-surgical silk masks in packs of two at £5 per mask, with second-class postage and packing at £2.50 up to 10 masks, They can be hand washed at up to 30C.