Where you do and don't have to wear a face covering in England now

Face coverings are now compulsory across England in a number of situations – with everyone having to wear one unless they have a legitimate exemption.

If you don’t cover your nose and mouth, shops and other places can turn you away – and if the police get involved you could be fined £100.

You have to wear a mask in all shops – including when you are buying takeaway food in faces and sandwich shops – as well as on public transport, reports MirrorOnline.

The rules, which allow police to remove you from premises as well as issuing a fine, will stay in place until at least the end of January 2021.

According to the Government: “In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.”

Places where you must wear a face covering by law in England

  • Shops, including banks and post offices
  • Takeaway food and drink shops or cafes, if you’re not sitting down to eat or drink and if there’s no table service available.
  • Supermarkets
  • Indoor shopping centres – excluding any area with sit-down food and drink service
  • Transport hubs – excluding any area with sit-down food and drink service
  • Public transport
  • Hospitals – the Government says: “All visitors and outpatients must wear face coverings at all times”

Places where you don’t need to wear a mask in England

Wearing a face covering is not mandatory in other venues that have measures in place to protect staff and the public from COVID-19.

These include the following – though some may obviously choose to ask you to wear a mask anyway:

  • Eat-in restaurants and pubs
  • Hairdressers and other treatment salons
  • Gyms and leisure centres
  • Cinemas, concert halls and theatres
  • Visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums) – except in their shops
  • Dentists or opticians
  • Chiropody, chiropractic, osteopathic or other medical services
  • Vet surgeries
  • Libraries

Situations where you are allowed remove a face covering if asked

  • In a bank, building society, or post office for identification
  • In a shop for identification when buying age-restricted products like alcohol
  • In a pharmacy for assessing health recommendations
  • When speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound

People who are exempt from wearing a mask in shops and public transport

  • Children under the age of 11
  • Shop staff and public transport operators in the course of their work (more below)
  • Police or PCSOs in the course of their work
  • Emergency responders in the course of their work
  • “Any other person providing services in the relevant place under arrangements made with the person responsible for a relevant place”
  • People with breathing difficulties and other respiratory conditions.
  • People with conditions affecting their dexterity, meaning they are not able to put on a face covering.
  • People with mental health conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders.
  • People with other non-visible disabilities such as autism.
  • People with cognitive impairments, including dementia, who may not understand or remember the need to wear a face covering.
  • People with visual impairments, with a restricted field of vision, particularly if any residual vision is at the lower edge of the normal field of view.
  • People with impairments which would make it difficult to put on or take off a face covering safely, accurately, consistently or without pain
  • Anyone else with justifiable reason not listed above on the grounds of health or disability.

Other people who have a ‘legitimate reason’ not to wear a mask

  • 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 if reasonably necessary
  • To take medication
  • If a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

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