People in England will be required by law to wear face coverings in shops as of Friday July 24 in the latest move to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will officially announce today that anyone failing to comply with the order could face a fine of up to £100.
It comes just two days after senior Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said he did not believe masks should be mandatory and that it was better to “trust people’s common sense”.
But the government has now said it is necessary to take the step in order to balance the strain of easing lockdown on the infection rate.
Environment Secretary George Eustice told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “The more areas that you open, the more pressure you put on that infection rate and so when considering the mix of other mitigation that you put in place to try to control that infection rate, strengthening the guidance and making it mandatory in some settings is a sensible thing to do.”
The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, with a maximum fine of £100 – reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.
Enforcement of the regulations will be the responsibility of the police - shop workers will be asked to encourage compliance but retailers and businesses will not be expected to enforce them.
As is the case on public transport, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
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