Can I be fined for not wearing a face mask in shops and takeaways?

FACE masks will be compulsory in takeaways and shops under new laws that come into effect today, July 24.

Not wearing a face covering could see customers forced to fork over £100 with staff told to report those without one to the police.

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Britain's most senior police officer yesterday said she hoped fines would be a "last resort," but that people should still wear them.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick explained she would prefer for shoppers to be "shamed" into wearing them.

She added the police will only get involved if shoppers without a mask refuse to leave the store or become "aggressive".

Thames Valley and Devon and Cornwall forces have also said officers will only attend such incidents if they turn violent.

Shops are not planning to challenge people going in without them, and will instead use signs and posters to encourage visitors to stay safe.

The new rules mean:

  • Brits must wear a mask in all shops
  • It is compulsory to use a face covering when collecting takeaway food or drink- including coffee
  • Masks are not required if having a sit down meal or in any scenario with table service
  • Police can hit those not wearing them with a £100 fine
  • Shops have been advised not to enforce the rules themselves

Today the Prime Minister’s spokesman backed Brits to follow the guidance.

He said: “What I am sure we will find as we have with other aspects of the coronavirus response is that the British public will voluntarily choose to follow the guidelines because they want to play their part in helping to slow the spread of the virus.

“Shops I think we would expect them to give advice to customers and to remind them they should be wearing a face covering, I am sure that the overwhelming majority of the public will do so.”

Shoppers can also be turned away at tills if they are not wearing a mask.

Shop staff will be recommended to wear masks, but it will not be compulsory.

Masks must also be worn when getting takeaway food or drink, but not when sitting down to enjoy them.

A Department of Health spokesman explained: "From Friday July 24, 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 cafe or a seating area to eat and drink, you can remove your face covering in that area."

People must now wear face masks in shops from Friday – and anyone who fails to wear one can be hit with a £100 fine.

It brings England into line with Scotland where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.

The Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis today confirmed masks were required for a takeaway.

He said: "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.”

The Association of Convenience Stores have warned shops not to challenge customers not wearing masks after lockdown violence against retail workers soared by 40 per cent.

The changes have sparked confusion before they've even been introduced with a series of ministers offering different explanations of how the rules work.

Multiple ministers offered different answers on masks prompting new guidance being issue today to clear up the confusion.

Last week's announcement also saw Downing Street clash with Health Secretary Matt Hancock after they said masks would not be compulsory in takeaways and he insisted they would.

Questioned over who was correct, Mr Hancock said: "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."

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