It will be made mandatory for shoppers in England to wear face coverings from July 24, the Government has announced.
In a statement this morning, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. Anyone failing to comply with the order could face a maximum fine of £100 – reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.
Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
The move brings England into line with Scotland and other major European nations such as Spain, Italy and Germany.
Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “We are pleased there has been a definite decision made on the wearing of face masks in shops in England – and that there has been some time to implement this.”
Commenting on the Government’s announcement, BCC co-executive director Claire Walker said: “Businesses need clarity on the approach to the wearing of face coverings that is consistent and supported by public health evidence. Shops and other indoor businesses need to know what the new rules are as soon as possible.
“Updated guidance, including on enforcement, should be issued swiftly so firms can maintain their Covid-secure status and continue their operations successfully.”
In Scotland, the use of coverings in shops has been mandatory since 10 July.
Shoppers in Wales and Northern Ireland are currently not required to wear them – however, they are mandatory in both countries on public transport. Both nations said they will keep the matter under review.
It has been compulsory to wear a face mask on public transport in England since 15 June.
It is understood that the new mandatory rule for face coverings in shops and supermarkets does not apply to retail staff.
While retailers and businesses will not be expected to enforce the rules, they will be asked to encourage compliance. However, ultimately, it will be the police who will be responsible for ensuring people follow the new requirement.
For more information on the wearing of face masks, see the latest government guidance here.