From Friday (24 July) people are required to wear a face covering in supermarkets and shops, in addition to when traveling on public transport. Those who don’t follow the new rules will face a fine of up to £100.
As with traveling on public transport, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
Shops can refuse entry to people who don’t comply and can call the police if necessary to issue a fine.
The new requirement has been introduced as the lock down restrictions are lifted because wearing a face covering can provide additional protection for people when they are not able to keep two metres from others, particularly people they do not normally come into contact with.
People are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where contact is likely with people that they do not normally meet.
Why do we need to wear face coverings?
The coronavirus is spread mainly through droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus.
What type of face covering do we need to use?
A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.
You do not need specialised masks and the government says surgical masks and respirators should be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as NHS staff and care workers.
Further guidance is available on how to make your own face coverings.
Face covering do’s and don’ts to stay safe
A face covering should:
- cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably
- fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
- be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
- be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
- ideally include at least two layers of fabric
- unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged
When wearing a face covering you should:
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
- avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
- avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
- change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
When removing a face covering:
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
- only handle the straps, ties or clips
- do not share with someone else to use
- if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
- if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed
Got symptoms? Stay home and get tested
- As soon as you develop coronavirus symptoms (fever, new persistent cough or loss/change in smell or taste), however mild, you should immediately stay at home, along with your household, and apply for a test straight away.
- If you have had close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case, you will need to isolate at home for 14 days as part of the national test and trace programme
Find out more information about NHS Test and Trace on the NHS website.