People who refuse to use a face covering in shops and supermarkets will face a £100 fine, the Government has announced.
Since June 15, the use of masks or a face covering on public transport and at NHS facilities across the UK was compulsory in a bid to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but now the rules have been expanded.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the decision has been made to “give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops”.
Mask wearing is already being enforced in Scotland and other European countries such as Spain, Italy and Germany.
There are exceptions to the rule for children under 11 and people with certain disabilities and in restaurants, pubs cafes, where coverings are not practical, they are not required.
Speaking to the Commons, Mr Hancock said: “Sadly, sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disproportionately in this crisis.
“The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75 per cent higher amongst men and 60 per cent higher amongst women than in the general population.”
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Despite this, shop staff do not have to wear a face covering, although it is recommended they do. They are also not expected to enforce the new face covering rule, instead that is being left up to the police.
Although, the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, told the Daily Telegraph they thought it “unrealistic and unfair” to expect them to patrol shops to make sure people were abiding by the rules.
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Policing the wearing of face coverings in shops can’t be a priority because we simply don’t have the resources.”
Evidence has found that wearing a face covering does not protect the person from becoming infected with COVID-19, but it can help stop the spread, should the wearer have become infected and not yet developed symptoms.