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Face mask rules are changing, with face coverings to become mandatory in shops across England. The move brings England into line with Scotland, and other European cities like Germany, Spain, and Italy. The use of face masks has been debated in recent weeks following advice from the World Health Organisation which stipulates face masks should be worn in public.
Wearing of face masks has been mandatory on public transport since June 15.
Pressure mounted on the Prime Minister to change public advice following an outcry from the public and from those who work in shops feeling it is still unsafe to return to work given coronavirus is still in general circulation.
The announcement came a day after Boris Johnson’s deputy Michael Gove said emphatically that masks would not be made mandatory.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons: “The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75 percent higher amongst men and 60 percent higher amongst women than in the general population.”
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News: “The scientific evidence of face coverings, and the importance of stopping aerosol droplets; that’s been growing.
“So I do think that in shops it is very important to wear a face covering.”
He added: “Face coverings are an extra insurance we can all use to stop it coming back, and stop it getting out of control again.
The official UK Government advice reads: “If you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.”
A No 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.”
Do children need to wear face masks?
Children under 11 do not need to wear a face mask when using public transport or going to the shops, the Government has advised.
Everyone else, apart from those who cannot wear them for health reasons, must wear one.
Those who fail to comply with the new rules, which will be enforced from July 24, could face a £100 fine.
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Some 120 countries around the world either require or strongly recommend the wearing of masks in enclosed public space.
The debate around the use of face masks has intensified as more sectors of society and industry reopen following strict lockdown.
The latest to be allowed to reopen includes gyms, nail bars, swimming pools, and tattoo parlours.
Non-essential retail has been open in England since June 15, and from July 24 shop staff can refuse entry to anyone who is not wearing a mask.
In Scotland, the use of coverings in shops has been mandatory since July 10.
Shoppers in Wales and Northern Ireland are not currently required to wear them, although both nations have said this will be kept under review.
Retailers have largely welcomed the changes but the question still remains of exactly how the change will be enforced with police already stretched and apprehension that shop workers may come under fire from some members of the public for telling them what to do.
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