People grabbing takeaway coffee or food in England WILL have to wear a face covering, a Tory Cabinet minister confirmed today.
Brandon Lewis cleared up days of confusion over mandatory masks that launch in England tomorrow.
From Friday, it will be the law to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England – with £100 fines for rule-breakers.
But people won’t have to wear a mask in restaurants or bars, because it is impractical to do so while eating or drinking.
That left confusion over the rules for takeaway food and drink outlets – like Pret a Manger or McDonald’s.
For days, ministers failed to clear up the situation before full laws are published later today.
Today Mr Lewis said you will have to mask up in a takeaway – depending on why you’re going in there.
If you’re sitting down and eating in the takeaway, you don’t need a mask. But if you’re paying for food or drink then taking it out, you do need a mask.
The Northern Ireland Secretary told Sky News: “Obviously if you’re in a food outlet it’s not practical to wear a face mask.
“What changes from tomorrow is if you’re in a retail environment, if you’re in a shop or a supermarket, you should be wearing a face mask.
“If you’re going into Pret a Manger and you are eating in Pret a Manger, which in some of their stores you can, then obviously you wouldn’t be wearing a face mask because you’re eating.
“But it’s clear, good common sense that if you’re going in to buy a takeaway, and leaving again, you’re treating it like a shop – and you should be wearing a face mask.”
Asked if he was sure, after Tory ministers gave conflicting advice and Michael Gove failed to wear a mask in Pret, Mr Lewis replied: “Yes.”
Mr Lewis said people will also need to wear masks from tomorrow in high street banks and indoor petrol station counters, as those are effectively a retail outlet.
Mr Lewis insisted the rules were “reasonable common sense”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “If you’re going into an outlet and you’re buying as if it’s a shop, you should be wearing a face mask.
“But of course, it’s not practical to wear a face mask if you’re eating.
“So for hospitality, if you’re going into that place to buy a sandwich and eat it on site, then of course no, you don’t have to wear a face mask.
“But if you’re using it as a shop, you should be wearing a face mask.”
Mr Lewis’ comments come after details of the plan were explained to the Daily Telegraph by a government source.
The source claimed purchasing food from a counter and sitting down to eat inside is banned.
That would mean McDonald’s customers having to use table service.
“You have to sit down straight away if you are going to eat in. If you can sit at a table, you don’t need to wear a mask,” the source said.
Mr Lewis did not mention this plan and it was unclear this morning if it would be part of official rules.
No10 changed the rules on masks as part of a set of new restrictions in an effort to prevent a potentially catastrophic second wave in the winter.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will publish an order later today to amend the Public Health Act 1984 to make face masks compulsory in shops in England.
They are already compulsory on public transport in England.
Children under 11, people with certain disabilities, those eating or drinking and companions of deaf lip-readers are among those exempt.
Shops can refuse entry to people not wearing a mask, and can call police as a last resort. But officers warn the law will be virtually impossible to enforce.
And the Association of Convenience Stores said: “We have advised members not to challenge customers unwilling to wear a covering.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick suggested shop staff should only call police if they “have tried everything else”.
She told LBC: “Calling the police should be a last resort for dealing with a mask issue. But of course the law is the law.”
Dame Cressida went on: “My hope is that the vast majority of people will comply, and that people who are not complying will be shamed into complying or shamed to leave the store by the store keepers or by other members of the public.
“If somebody is concerned about what is going on in their store, yes, of course they should call the police and we will try to assist.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “From Friday 24 July it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets, as is currently the case on public transport.
“If a shop or supermarket has a café or a seating area to eat and drink you can remove your face covering in that area.
“Further details will be set out in the regulations.”