Face coverings to be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July

The Government has today announced that wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July.

Under the new rules, those who fail to wear a face covering will face a fine of up to £100. However, children under the age of 11 and people with certain disabilities will be exempt.  

The Government's list of legitimate reasons not to wear a face covering include:

  • young children under the age of 11
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • to eat or drink, but only if you need to
  • to take medication
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:

  • If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
  • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

The liability for wearing a face covering lies with the individual. Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply, the police have the formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.

The new rule will not apply to retail staff and applies to England only. 

Making the announcement, Secretary of State for Health, Matthew 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% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population."

"There is also evidence that face coverings increase confidence in people to shop."

More information: 

  • The Secretary of State for Health's full announcement can be found here.
  • Further information on when to wear face coverings and making your own can be found here