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Is it mandatory to wear a face covering in shops?


  • Face coverings are mandatory in shops
  • Failing to wear one could result in a fine of up to £6,400 for repeat offenders
  • Shop staff can refuse entry to shoppers who don’t comply
  • Shop staff can call the police for back up if they experience resistance
  • The rules don’t apply to children under 11 or people with some disabilities
  • Shop staff are required to wear face coverings while working

When should I be wearing a face covering?

There are some places where you are required to wear a face covering by law. In England, you are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of the listed settings and must keep it on unless there is a reason for removing it.

The list includes:
• Public transport
• Shops and supermarkets
• Shopping centres
• Premises providing hospitality (such as bars, restaurants, and cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink. The face covering must be worn again once you have finished eating or drinking.
• Premises providing personal care (such as hair salons, barbers and nail salons)

For the full list of when you should be wearing a face covering in England, visit the Government website. Anyone who fails to “cover up” on public transport or in an indoor setting could be fined £2 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) and up to £6,400 for repeat offenders.

Children under the age of 11 do not have to wear a face covering and there are other exceptions, including for health or disability reasons. Staff and customers should be mindful and respectful that some people are less able to wear face coverings and that the reasons may not be visible to others. To see the full list of when you do not need to wear a face covering, visit the Government website and check back regularly to ensure you are aware of the latest guidance. Rules may vary between different parts of the UK. You can find out more on the relevant regional websites:

Why should I be wearing a face covering?

Wearing a face covering aims to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from coughing, sneezing, and even talking, as demonstrated in the image below.

WHO | BBC infographic on the difference between droplet and airborne transmission

Image source: BBC

Do my staff in my shop have to wear masks?

Current Government guidelines state, that face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in areas that are open to the public and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public. This includes shops, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and post offices. You should check the guidance regularly to ensure you are abreast of any changes.

The Federation of Independent Retailers have launched a campaign to encourage customers across the UK and Ireland to protect independent retailers and their staff as coronavirus restrictions tighten. You can find more about the campaign or download the posters for your shop here.

In the words of Batman from The Dark Knight Rises, “The mask is not for you, it’s to protect the people you care about.” Let’s all try to be a bit more like Batman and wear face coverings in shops and other indoor environments.

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