From July 24, wearing a face mask in certain shops will become mandatory for customers.
Some people are exempt from the new face mask rules, but for most, the change comes with some new rules for storing, washing and reusing masks.
The Government has published official guidance for how to keep your mask effective.
Venues such as restaurants and pubs are exempt from the new law, where people would regularly be removing their masks to eat and drink.
Police have been told they can fine anybody flouting the new law £100, which will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Official guidance also states: “If you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.”
And in the government documentation, there are some surprising hidden rules which you will need to abide by from Friday onwards.
The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 – the same law used as the basis for many lockdown restrictions.
The places which are exempt
Punters at pubs, restaurants and hotels will be exempt from the new rules, the government said.
You must regularly change it
You should aim to wash or change your mask every time you wear it. You should also change it if you’ve sneezed or coughed into it.
Change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it, the guidance adds.
Punishments for breaking the rules
Transport operators can deny service or direct someone to wear a face covering.
Shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage compliance with the law (as they would do more generally) and can refuse entry.
The people exempt
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:
- young children under the age of 11
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- to eat or drink, but only if you need to
- to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
- If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
- If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
Do not pull it down to talk to somebody
It is important to keep your cloth face covering in place over your nose and mouth at all times while in enclosed spaces.
Do not store it in your pocket
Do not place your cloth face covering in your pocket for later use.
Once removed, store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. If the face covering is single use, dispose of it in a residual waste bin.
How often to wash it
Wash your face covering regularly and follow the washing instructions for the fabric. You can use your normal detergent. You can wash and dry it with other laundry. You must throw away your face covering if it is damaged.
The number of layers
A face covering should cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably and ideally include at least two layers of fabric (the World Health Organisation recommends three depending on the fabric used).
Announcing the move, a Number 10 spokesperson said: “There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.
“The prime minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24.”