From Friday 24 July, wearing face coverings in shops will be mandatory in England, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.
The government announced these new rules earlier this week from best available scientific evidence that states when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.
Those who fail to wear a mask will face a fine of up to £100 which will be enforced by the police; this will be reduced to £50 if people pay within 14 days. Face coverings will not be required in pubs, cafes or restaurants, where they would not be practical.
Shop workers themselves will not have to wear face coverings at work. Others who are exempt from the rules include children under 11 and those with a physical or mental illness or disability, if this would cause them severe distress. A full list of those exempt can be found on www.gov.uk.
These rules are in addition to those that were made in June, when the government made it mandatory for people to wear face coverings when they are using any form of public transport, or when they are going to hospital for an appointment or to visit or accompany somebody who needs assistance.
Tim Hutchings, Executive Member for Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, said: ‘We are asking everyone in Hertfordshire to play their part and wear face coverings whenever they are in shops. Homemade, fabric face coverings can help reduce the spread of the virus from people who are contagious but don’t realise it because they don’t have symptoms. They can be washed and re-used, are easy and cheap to make and are readily available to buy in the shops or online.
‘However, if you know, or suspect that you have COVID-19, you and your household must not go out and about. Stay at home and arrange to get tested with either a postal test or at a drive-through test centre. If your test result shows that you have COVID-19, you and the people you live with must all stay at home and self-isolate, in line with NHS guidance.
Cllr Linda Haysey, Leader of East Herts Council, and Chair of the community reassurance cell of the Local Resilience Forum said: Please help to protect yourself, your family, your community and NHS services by following the new rules and advice. Be prepared by carrying a face covering with you and using it carefully when it is needed.
‘Remember that face coverings are not an alternative to social distancing, good hand washing and good hygiene. Taken together, these are the most important and effective measures that we can all take to prevent the spread of coronavirus.’
The symptoms of COVID-19 are a new, continuous cough, a temperature, or losing your sense of taste or smell. You can book a test either by using this website: www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test or by calling 119 if you don’t have access to the internet.