PEOPLE will NOT have to wear face masks in cafes and coffee shops if they are picking up take away food, No10 said this afternoon.
But this morning Matt Hancock said customers paying for food at a counter at cafes such as Pret a Manger or Costa would have to cover up.
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The Government found itself in further chaos today after ministers were unsure whether or not masks needed to be worn when buying take away food.
No10 said this afternoon: “It wouldn’t be mandatory if you went in, for example to go into a sandwich shop to wear a face covering. It is mandatory for shops rather than food shops.”
But Mr Hancock told Sky News this morning: “You do need to wear a face mask in Pret because Pret is a shop – in hospitality, there needs to be table service.
“If there’s table service, it is not necessary to have a mask. But in any shop, you do need the mask.
“So, if you’re going up to the counter in Pret to buy takeaway that is a shop, but if you go to your local pub you can’t go to the bar.”
“The reason is because of the risk of transmission over the bar.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health said this morning face masks would need to be worn at the counter, but not when customers eat and drink.
The new rules will make face masks compulsory from July 24 in England and people will face a £100 fine if they fail to comply.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted: “This is frankly ridiculous. The virus doesn’t know if you’re in a take-away or a supermarket.
“The Government is risking the health of the public to cover the back of a Cabinet Minister. Please wear a face covering in all shops and take aways.”
The bungled message on masks in cafes comes after Environment Secretary refused to rule out masks in offices yesterday, only for Mr Hancock to say 24 hours later they would definitely not need to be worn.
Mr Hancock said today: “The reason for that is when you are in close proximity with somebody who you have to work closely with, if you are there for a long time then a mask does not offer that protection, as opposed to a shop or public transport when you are with someone for a reasonable amount of time.
“The point is when you are in interaction with people you aren’t normally with, that’s when the mask is particularly helpful.”
Mr Hancock was slammed by Lorraine Kelly this morning for the Government’s relaxation of rules.
She said the measures to stop the spread of coronavirus had been “smashed to smithereens”.
Labour Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders said the Government’s muddle over masks was “just hopeless”.
He said: “We have had mixed messages from Government all week and it seems that once again they are making it up as they go along.
“We need clear and consistent messages about when the wearing of a face covering will be compulsory not attempts at redefining what a shop is.
“Public safety and confidence are key to preventing a second wave and the Government need to raise their game in ensuring that everyone knows when the wearing of a mask is required.”
Government guidance already advises people to wear masks where they are indoors and unable to social distance but yesterday Michael Gove was spotted leaving a Pret without a mask.
Mr Hancock said the photo was taken before the policy was formally announced.
But Liz Truss, another Cabinet minister, sported a blue mask coming out of the same Pret in Westminster.
People could also be banned from entering shops if they do not have a mask and Mr Hancock urged shops to call the police if people enter without one.
He said masks help keep down asymptomatic transmission of the virus.