face mask retail shops government

As new measures are introduced to curb the rapidly rising rate of COVID-19 infections, prime minister Boris Johnson has confirmed face coverings will be compulsory for all retail staff and retailers that fail to comply may face hefty fines.

Stressing the measure is aimed at ensuring retailers can keep trading in a COVID-19 secure way, the mandatory face mask rule will come into force from Thursday 24 September.

“From Thursday, we will extend the requirement to wear face coverings to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private-hire vehicles and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink,” stated the prime minister.

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“In retail, leisure and tourism and other sectors, our COVID-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.”

Alongside the addition of retail staff to the mask-wearing measures, customers refusing to wear masks in stores will also be subject to larger fines, doubling from £100 to £200 for first-time offenders.

Importantly, the prime minister confirmed police presence will be increased to enforce the new measure, warning retailers not adhering to the rile could face fines of up to £10,000.

“We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support, where required, to free up the police,” said Johnson.

Throughout the pandemic, the government’s position of the use of face masks has changed significantly, with the introduction of increasingly more stringent rules throughout the year.

For retail staff with a disability, the UK government has (as of 10:30 on 23 September) not released details regarding exemptions, however, the Welsh government has confirmed that exemptions are permitted for those “not able to put on or to wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, or because of a disability or impairment.”

At the end of July, the government released face mask exemption cards to enable those unable to wear coverings to clearly identify themselves without being subject to abuse or police attention.

Cautioning that a second lockdown was looming during his address to the nation if the latest restrictions were not followed, the prime minister added that these stricter measures would likely be in place for the next six months.

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