It’s been a hot topic for months now, and as countries around the world – including Scotland – have adopted face coverings as mandatory measures in their easing of lockdown, England has lagged a bit behind. But later today (Tuesday July 14), health minister Matt Hancock is expected to announce that face masks or coverings will be made compulsory for people to wear when visiting shops.
However, the measure won’t come into play until over a week’s time, on Friday July 24. The new rule comes into force as another wave of venues reopen, with indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres allowed to return from Saturday July 25. But the wearing of face masks will be restricted to supermarkets and shops for now – as well as on public transport, where it’s been compulsory since Monday June 15.
Those found not wearing a face covering in shops from July 24 could face a £100 fine, with police expected to carry out enforcement of the new rule. Fines will be reduced by half if paid within 14 days. Although staff in shops will be asked to help encourage the wearing of face coverings, they won’t be tasked with enforcing the measure.
Up until now, people across the country have been advised to wear masks in enclosed, public spaces. But Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has continued to call on Londoners to wear masks as the capital comes out of lockdown and has urged the government to provide more clarity on the wearing of face coverings in public spaces.
Of the latest development, Khan questioned the nearly two-week delay for new measures to come into law. On Facebook he said: ‘Whilst this u-turn from Govt is welcome news, time and time again slow action has put the public’s health at risk. We can’t afford to wait any longer – Govt should bring this policy in immediately.’
Environment secretary George Eustice told the BBC that the delay was to ‘give people time to prepare’, but that members of the public could begin to adapt immediately following today’s announcement and that the mandatory messaging would help clear things up for confused people.
Not got a mask yet? Check out these cool, reusable designs by London makers.