Face masks will become mandatory in takeaways and sandwich shops under laws being introduced on Friday.
No10 is expected to clarify its position today after mixed messages from ministers over wearing masks in food establishments.
Premises with table service are said to be exempt from the new rules, though buying food from a counter and sitting down to eat inside will banned, according to The Daily Telegraph.
A government source told the newspaper that only eateries with table service would not require masks. They added: ‘You have to sit down straight away if you are going to eat in. If you can sit at a table you don’t need to wear a mask.’
Earlier this week, McDonald’s said it would be reopening 700 restaurants with table service. The new rules mean that anyone sitting down to eat there would not have to wear a mask, but those ordering at the counter would.
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This comes ahead of already planned changes over face mask usage.
Friday July 24, wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets is mandatory and anyone failing to comply will be fined up to £100. The announcement caused wide-spread confusion with the health secretary and the PM’s spokesman contradicting each other over whether the law applied to takeaways.
Matt Hancock said last week: ‘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.’
But the prime minister’s official spokesman later said: ‘We will be publishing the full guidance shortly but my understanding is that it wouldn’t be mandatory if you went in, for example, to a sandwich shop in order to get a takeaway to wear a face covering.
‘It is mandatory … we are talking about supermarkets and other shops rather than food shops.’
There was further confusion when Chancellor Rishi Sunak and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss were pictured wearing masks at a Pret a Manger in Westminster, while Michael Gove was photographed in the sandwich shop without one.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma also claimed that face coverings will be only a recommendation – not compulsory – for people going into cafes for takeaway food.
Despite changes to the law, stores have said they will not enforce the rules themselves over fears of how customers will react.
Sainsbury’s revealed it would not ‘challenge customers’ in its aisles as it was worried ‘they may have a reason not to wear a mask’. The Co-op followed suit but urged people to adhere to the new legal requirements.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said it has urged its 33,500 members to turn a blind eye to those who don’t comply as it was concerned about repercussions.
Its chief executive James Lowman said: ‘We are helping retailers to communicate the rules around face coverings as widely as possible to customers, but have advised our members not to challenge customers who are unwilling to wear a face covering.
‘The safety of retailers and their colleagues is our number one priority and we are keen to avoid any potential flashpoints of abuse in stores.’
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