AS the UK continues to head out of lockdown and aims to keep coronavirus under control, the government has begun introducing further social distancing measures.
In June 2020 it was made compulsory to wear face masks on public transport – and soon that will be extended to shops.
When is it compulsory to wear a face mask in shops?
The law will mandate face masks to be worn in all shops and supermarkets from Friday 24 July.
The rules do not apply to children under 11 or those with health conditions that give them exemption from wearing the masks.
It applies to all shops including high street retail stores, corner shops and supermarkets.
It does not include hospitality businesses including cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs.
But the government was accused of muddled messaging after a row erupted when cabinet members Liz Truss and Michael Gove were seen emerging from the same Westminster Pret branch – one with a mask and one without.
No10 concluded: "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."
This contradicted Health Secretary Matt Hancock who told Sky News earlier that day:“You do need to wear a face mask in Pret because Pret is a shop.
“If there’s table service, it is not necessary to have a mask. But in any shop, you do need a 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.
Can I be fined for not wearing a face mask?
Yes. Police have the power to fine you up to £100 for not wearing a face covering in a shop.
However, it is unclear how tough police will be when it comes to enforcing the new law.
Devon and Cornwall's police and crime commissioner has already said cops are too busy to be dealing with this.
Alison Hernandez added that they would only intervene if there was "disorder or violence or something associated with it" as the force moves "back into ordinary policing."
And the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) suggested officers would only intervene over face masks as a "last resort".
Where to buy a face mask?
You can buy disposable face masks which must be thrown away after each use, or reusable masks which can be washed.
Masks can be bought from all pharmacies and clinical stores such as Boots, Superdrug and Lloyds Pharmacy.
They can also be bought in bulk on sites like Amazon.
Some fashion brands including Hugo Boss have even stocked their own high-end masks.
You can also make your own face mask using just kitchen towel and tissue.
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