SHOPPERS become a mask force today as new compulsory face covering rules are introduced.
They must be worn in a range of places and anyone not complying faces a £100 fine in a bid to further reduce the spread of coronavirus.
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After weeks of confusion, ministers confirmed that face coverings will be compulsory for those popping in to cafes and sandwich shops to pick up food to take away.
Customers must also wear masks in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, banks, building societies and Post Offices.
The rules also apply to transport hubs such as railway stations and airports.
McDonald’s said its customers must wear a mask when they order at the counter or self-service screens, or go to the loo.
They will be allowed to take it off when they are sitting down and ordering from the app, or eating.
However, customers will not have to wear a covering when they “dine in” at cafes, like Pret, guidelines say.
Cabinet Minister Brandon Lewis yesterday insisted it was all just “common sense”.
He told Sky News: “If you are going into Pret A Manger and you are eating in then obviously you wouldn’t be wearing a face mask because you are eating.
“But it is clear good common sense that if you are going in to buy a takeaway and leaving it again you are treating it like a shop and should be wearing a mask.”
If you are in a bank, building society or Post Office, you may be asked to remove your mask if they need to check your identity.
A shop may ask you to remove your mask for age-restricted products, such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Confusion might also arise if a shop or supermarket has a cafe or seating area for you to eat and drink. You can remove your face covering while in this area only.
However, some places are exempt from the rules.
You are not required to cover your face at pubs, the cinema, theatre, hairdressers, opticians or dentists.
Masks are recommended in crowded spaces but are on the whole not compulsory in outdoor areas.
England is finally switching to compulsory face masks in shops weeks after many other countries, including Germany and Italy, made the move.
The Government says that as coronavirus is brought more under control and the lockdown is eased, masks can help stifle the disease.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive for UK Hospitality, told BBC Breakfast that cafes and shops will do “everything we can in our power to get ready” in time but that it would be hard.
Shop workers have warned they cannot be expected to police the new rules.
The Government said the responsibility for wearing a face covering “sits with individuals”, adding: “Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.”
Sainsbury’s said it was asking everyone to continue “playing their part in helping us to keep everyone safe”.
Asda said it was confident that customers will wear face coverings and
Waitrose said staff at the entrance to their supermarkets will be reminding customers of the new requirement.
The same exemptions as for public transport will apply, with kids under 11 and people with breathing problems not required to wear a covering.
Anyone who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability is also exempt.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Everyone must play their part in fighting this virus by following this new guidance.”
His department said face coverings should be stored in a plastic bag until they can be washed or disposed of.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said those not wearing their masks properly over both mouth and nose will be “advised as to the right and safest way” to wear them rather than be immediately fined up to £100 for non-compliance.
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