Anti-maskers provoke shop staff by flouting new restrictions

The anti-maskers provoking shop staff by flouting restrictions: Woman who boasts she ‘didn’t clap for the NHS’ and smoker with face tattoo are among mob of rule-breakers sharing videos of themselves not covering-up in stores

  • Anti-maskers have flouted new laws which make wearing of face coverings in shops in England mandatory
  • Lara Crabb talked of ‘people avoiding me like the plague’ as she went shopping in farm store in Devon
  • Male tattoo artist told Sainsbury’s staff that they ‘can’t enforce the policy’ as he bought a pack of cigarettes
  • Shoppers in other parts of England confronted other customers for not wearing face coverings today

Anti-maskers have been flouting new coronavirus laws in force today which make the wearing of face coverings in shops, banks and shopping centres across England compulsory.

Lara Crabb spoke of people avoiding her ‘like the plague’ as she filmed herself shopping in a farm store and a Tesco branch in Devon without covering her nose and mouth with a mask. 

Meanwhile tattoo artist Aron Walton filmed himself entering a Sainsbury’s branch without a a face covering which he dismissed as useless as he told staff they cannot enforce the new policy.

In London a Twitter account under the moniker ‘Mr. Grunter’ filmed the moment he entered a Boots store and asked a guard if he could enter without a face covering as he claimed he ‘can’t wear a mask’. 

And a shocking video posted on Facebook entitled ‘play by your own rules’ shows Reis Daniel being told to wear a mask in Sainsbury’s before grabbing a bag of sweets without paying and running out the store laughing.

The videos were uploaded as shoppers in other parts of England confronted other customers for not wearing masks, while McDonald’s staff kicked out diners for not covering their faces.

People in England now have to wear masks in all shops, stations, banks and post offices, though there is confusion with different firms having different policies on coverings – and whether or not to force customers to wear them.

Sainsbury’s, Asda, Co-Op and Costa Coffee are among the firms saying they would not police the coronavirus rules, which also require people to cover their faces in all transport hubs, shopping centres and petrol stations.

McDonald’s, on the other hand, are enforcing the rules, with customers in a Chelmsford, Essex branch ordered to leave the fast food diner for not wearing a face mask.    

Meanwhile, customers reported seeing fights break out in supermarkets, with masked shoppers confronting those not wearing a covering.  One person wrote: ’10:05am I entered Sainsbury’s, 10:08am there’s a fight in the second isle because someone hasn’t got a mask on and the lady with her kid was panicking and shouting at the anti masker ….. end result? Lady picks up a tub of double cream and throws it in their face.’ 

It comes as:

  • Boris Johnson admitted that his Government could have done things ‘differently’ early on in the pandemic; 
  • A Tory peer and health minister today suggested that gloves could also become mandatory when shopping; 
  • Care minister Helen Whately defended the short notice regarding the issuing of guidance just yesterday;
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move was essential for preventing a second wave of coronavirus;  
  • Union leaders have voiced fears that the new rules on face coverings could put workers’ safety at risk.


Lara Crabb spoke of people avoiding her ‘like the plague’ as she filmed herself shopping in a farm store and a Tesco branch in Devon without covering her nose and mouth with a mask. Meanwhile tattoo artist Aron Walton filmed himself entering a Sainsbury’s branch without a a face covering as he told staff they cannot enforce the new policy 

Boris Johnson admits that the Government ‘could have done things differently’ in the early stages of coronavirus outbreak as he says ministers ‘didn’t understand it’ for MONTHS but denies being too slow to act 

Boris Johnson admitted tonight that his Government could have done things ‘differently’ early on in the coronavirus pandemic – but denied being too slow to act as the killer disease swept the nation.

In an interview to mark a year since becoming Tory leader and Prime Minister he admitted that politicians and scientists ‘didn’t understand (the virus) in the way that we would have liked’  in the spring.

Mr Johnson has come under heavy pressure in recent weeks over whether the lockdown began early enough, after chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs they wanted it brought in a week before it came into effect on March 23.

Speaking to the BBC tonight, Mr Johnson said:  ‘When you look back at this crisis, everybody can see that this was something that was new, that we didn’t understand in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months.

‘And I think probably, you know, the single thing that we didn’t see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person. 

‘That wasn’t clear to us or to anybody. But … there will be plenty of time by the way to look back at all the other things that we need to learn and there will be an occasion to do that.’

Asked if his administration had been slow to act, he added: ‘No, on the contrary, no if you look at the timing of every single piece of advice that we got from our advisers, from Sage, you will find that whenever they said that we needed to take a particular step, actually, we stuck to that advice like glue.’ 

Ms Crabb, whose social media profile is linked to a website for the anti-lockdown campaign group Keep Britain Free, uploaded her anti-mask crusade videos this morning.

After shopping a local farm store without a mask, she recorded herself telling how other shoppers ‘were avoiding me like the plague’ and ‘trolleys were going around me as if I was some big obstruction’, adding: ‘You can sort of see in people’s eyes what they’re thinking when they see you without a mask, it’s so sad that it’s come to this’.

Ms Crabb, who was wearing a cap and a pink top, said she had ‘never felt so uncomfortable in a shop in all my life’ and noted that the ‘staff were amazing’ and ‘looked at me like a normal customer’.

Facebook user Aron Walton filmed himself walking around a Sainsbury’s store with a grin on his face as he then asked a member of staff ‘what’s the policy’ before telling him the rule cannot be enforced.  

Twitter account ‘Mr. Grunt’ recorded video of the moment he approached a Boots store and asked the masked guard if he could enter, to which the guard replied ‘yes, there are masks back there’.

In the video, which was posted online with the caption ‘Well done @BootsUK! #NoMasks’, the man says ‘I can’t wear a mask, is that ok’ before the masked guard responds ‘yeah, that’s ok’.

And in London, Facebook user Reis Daniel says ‘f*** it, I’m going in’ before he is told by a member of Sainsbury’s staff that he is not allowed in the store without a covering.

Mr Daniel responds ‘man, that’s rough’ before he snatches a bag of sweets by the check-out counter without paying for them and sprinting out of the store laughing. 

Under the rules, even customers entering banks must don a mask, but young children and people with medical conditions affected by masks are exempt from wearing them.  

Police are now urging shops to refuse entry to people not wearing face coverings, with John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, saying: ‘I would urge retail outlets to play their part in making the rules crystal clear – if you are not wearing a face covering then you are not coming in. Officers will be there to help stores if needed – but only as a last resort, as we simply do not have the resources.’

Speaking about those who might have exemptions, Mr Apter added: ‘If you’re out shopping today and you see somebody not wearing a face covering it may be because they have a hidden disability. Don’t jump to conclusions, don’t have a go at them. This is new for us all, it’s about keeping each other safe. Please be nice!’ 

There was confusion within hours of the new rules coming into effect, with shopper Alan Gregg claiming he was at a Tesco store in Balby, South Yorkshire, at 6am for shopping this morning, ‘and the lady at the door said to me face masks are not compulsory in this store’. Tesco has been contacted for comment. 

Another Twitter user told Costa Coffee that he was boycotting their stores, saying: ‘Due to your stance on face masks I will no longer be using your outlets despite being a customer for more years than I can remember.’

Failure to comply could result in a £100 spot fine, although police forces have indicated they will only respond as a ‘last resort’. Scotland Yard said it hopes shoppers who refuse to wear masks will be ‘shamed’ into compliance. 

A mask can only be removed in a shop for a small number of reasons, such as allowing staff to check someone’s identity or age or to communicate with a deaf lip reader. Shop staff do not have to wear coverings but it is ‘strongly recommended’ that employers ask them to do so unless they have other precautions such as screens.

A shopper wearing a mask in a supermarket in London as coverings become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England

McDonald’s are enforcing the rules, with customers in a Chelmsford, Essex branch ordered to leave for not wearing a mask. Pictured is a Manchester McDonald’s

A shopper leaves Tesco on Goodge Street in Central London not wearing a face mask despite the new rules from today. Young children and people with medical conditions affected by a mask are exempt from the regulations


People leave a B&M store in Slough (left) and a Londis petrol station shop in Chirton, North Tyneside (right), without masks 

Some people wear masks while others do not at a Pret a Manger outlet in London this morning after the new rules were introduced. The new guidance states face coverings will be required in takeaway sandwich shops like Pret


Some shoppers wear masks while others do not when leaving a Tesco store on Goodge Street in London this morning

Martin Mac tweeted this picture of two people wearing face masks at Williams & Co Trade Only Plumbing and Heating Supplies in Basingstoke, Hampshire, this morning


Shoppers visit the Tesco Extra store in Shieldfield, Newcastle, this morning, buying groceries without wearing a face mask

One woman wears a face mask at a Lidl in Camden Town, while another goes without as the two pass each other in the store


Shoppers seen in supermarkets in Camden Town without face masks after becoming compulsory today in all shops


Contrast: A woman in Selfridges on Oxford Street, London wears a face mask (left), while a shopper in Pret a Manger in Camden Town goes without (right)

A shopper is handed a protective mask on entering a supermarket in Ealing on the day face coverings became mandatory in shops in the UK

Passengers at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport wearing face masks this afternoon following the change in law making them mandatory in transport hubs

Face coverings will have to be worn in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres as well as train stations and airports under new rules set to apply across England from today

Airline staff wearing face masks at Heathrow Airport this afternoon. Failure to comply with the rules could result in a £100 fine although the police have suggested that they will not be aggressively enforcing the policy

In Essex, the county council has commissioned a series of badges to help those exempt from wearing masks who are concerned about negative reactions, saying: ‘I have a valid medical reason for not wearing a face mask.’ 

The new rules are contentious, with some people finding masks uncomfortable and some libertarians complaining they are being ‘muzzled’ by the state. 

Among those complaining about the rules was a visitor to dress alterations shop Village Alterations in Melling, Merseyside, which is run by Sarah Knight, 46.

She said: ‘I have five customers so far this morning and fortunately they have all been wearing masks. However one man grumbled: ‘This is ridiculous – they don’t work anyway’. And then he said it was very late in the day that the rule came in.

‘But he was still wearing one. I wouldn’t serve anyone or let anyone come in without wearing one. I would refuse to serve them. I have a mask on when people come into the shop.’

A shopper without a face mask outside a Tesco store in Leicester. Face coverings have become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England from today

Face coverings are now mandatory in shops and supermarkets across England. Under new rules introduced by the Government, people will need to cover their nose and mouth or face a fine of up to £100. People with disabilities are exempt

Shoppers seen in supermarkets in Camden Town without face masks after becoming compulsory today in all shops

Despite face coverings becoming mandatory in shops today, Britons all over the country continued to flout the rules as they shopped 

A shopper wearing a mask outside Iceland in Leicester. Face coverings have become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England

A shopper wearing a face mask in Selfridges on Oxford Street, London today after the coverings became mandatory today

Shoppers wearing face masks in Selfridges on Oxford Street, London this afternoon as the coverings became required today

A shopper wears a face mask at Primark on Oxford Street in London this morning as the new rules come into force

A shopper wearing a face mask in a Waitrose supermarket in East London today as coverings become mandatory in shops

A shopper wearing a face mask in Selfridges on Oxford Street, London, as face coverings become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England

A shopper wearing a face mask in Boots on Oxford Street in London today as face coverings become mandatory in shops


Reggie, five, wears a shark face mask in Bristol (left) where other shoppers were also seen wearing face coverings (right)

Two women wearing face mask wait for their flight at Heathrow airport this afternoon, with the majority of passengers seemingly following the guidelines

Face covering are mandatory in airports from today – as well a range of places including shops, hotels and shopping centres

Some staff members reportedly did not wear face masks, though the majority of customers appeared to be doing so at Heathrow today

People wearing masks at terminal 5 Heathrow airport today, but still some staff and passengers not wearing the masks

She added: ‘The virus has affected me a lot because i do a lot of wedding dress alterations and a lot of weddings have been cancelled. I just had one bride cancel this morning.’

Today, almost everyone entering cafes and shops lining the busy Kingsway road in Central London wore masks – with staff attending them claiming that the new laws should have been introduced earlier.

Andrzej Kowlski, assistant manager at Greggs, said: ‘All our customers have been very good so far. We are actually not allowed to turn anybody away, but we can advise them that they should wear a mask.

What do the new laws on face masks say? 

People will need to wear a face covering in shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, sandwich shops and supermarkets under new regulations which came into force in England today. 

The Government is bringing new laws into force which could see people who flout the rules get slapped with a fine. Here, we take a look at the new legislation.

– What has changed?

New laws called The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 have been published and were brought into force today.

– What does the law say?

No-one can go enter certain buildings like shops without a face covering – which covers your face and nose – unless they have a reasonable excuse.

Face coverings must be worn in: shops and shopping centres; banks; building societies; credit unions; short-term loan providers; savings clubs and currency exchange offices; anywhere that transmits money by cash or cheque; post offices. 

A reasonable excuse includes: where a person cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of physical or mental illness, impairment or disability; when accompanying someone who relies on lip reading; to avoid or escape harm or injury to themselves or others; in order to eat and drink or take medication.

– Are there any exemptions?

Yes. The rules do not apply to children under the age of 11, employees working in the business in question or public transport staff, police officers, other emergency workers and officials. 

Premises which are exempt include: restaurants with table service and bars, including those in hotels or members’ clubs; pubs; libraries; law firms; medical and dental practices; vets; cinemas; theatres; museums and galleries; aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites; nightclubs; bingo halls; concert halls, public halls; conference centres; indoor fitness studios; gyms; leisure centres; indoor swimming pools; water parks; bowling alleys; funfairs; theme parks; amusement arcades; indoor soft play areas; indoor sports arenas; casinos; hotels; spas; beauty salons and hairdressers; tattoo and piercing parlours; storage centres; funeral directors; photography studios and auction houses.

– What happens if I break the rules?

You can be told to put on a face covering or leave the premises by police or transport officers. Police officers can escort someone from a building for refusing to follow the rules and can use reasonable force if necessary. You could be fined £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days, or even prosecuted.

– How long will the rules be in force?

The rules must be reviewed by the Government within six months of the law being brought into force, which is January 24 2021. Ultimately the law expires after a year unless the Government scraps it beforehand.

‘This morning my job has been to speak with the customers to remind them about the new law. But we are not prepared to force them to do this and we would not call the police if they protested, unless they became violent.’ 

Mr Kowlski, who was wearing a visor added: ‘The new law is a very good thing. A lot of shop staff are at risk of catching coronavirus and making face masks compulsory should have happened a few weeks ago when the lockdown started easing.’

Thomas Molley, 64, wore a black mask while he was shopping in Asda in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

The grandfather-of-four said: ‘I don’t want to get a £100 fine so I put one on.

‘Most people seemed to have them on – it seems the right thing to do and we don’t want a second wave.’

Sarah Wright, 33, admitted to not wearing one when she went in Balloons UK shop in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

The mother-of-two said: ‘I hadn’t bought one as I don’t think they do any good.

‘But I’d forgotten you have to wear one from today – I did get a few funny looks, and the staff said I should be wearing one,

‘I suppose I’m going to have to get one.’

One woman, who went into a Subway in Manchester, said: ‘I didn’t think you had to wear one if it was a food place.

‘I’m confused about the rules.’

Steve O’Brien, 28, had a mask on as he went to boots in Aintree, Merseyside.

The car supply worker said: ‘I don;t understand why we have to wear one now.

‘Surely if we needed them, then we should have been wearing on in March.

‘It all seems a bit of a muddle.’

Phil Yates, 44, an archivist who had just purchased a coffee and pasty in Greggs revealed that he had started wearing his face mask as a result of the new law.

He said: ‘I have had a face mask for quite a while but haven’t always been wearing it. But I’m wearing it now as a result of these new regulations. I think it’s a very positive thing, we all need to take more responsibility and do all that we can to help stem the increase in coronavirus. But I don’t understand why it’s taken so long to bring this new law in.’

At Paul café, Sarah Weiss was stood behind a screen wearing a mask as she served customers. She said: ‘About 30 people have come in so far and I would say that more than 90 per cent have had masks on.

‘Of those that haven’t, we just ask them nicely to wear one. We don’t want to get into arguments with our customers, so our approach is to be diplomatic. We feel much safer that people coming into the café now have to wear masks, it’s better for everybody.’ 

Rani, a shop assistant in the Co-op, said: ‘The new law has just come into force and some people have simply forgotten that they have to wear masks. It’s going to take some time for people to get used to this.

‘It’s going to be difficult to police the new law but I’m hoping that our customers will be co-operative. But to be honest, we wanted this new law a long time ago.’

Jack Smith, a water engineer was not wearing a mask as he emerged from a Pret a Manger with a coffee in his hand. When asked why he was not wearing one, he replied: ‘I just forgot. I’ve actually got one in my pocket.

‘My girlfriend actually reminded me this morning that you can now get fined if you go into a shop or café without a mask. But it’s still very early in the morning and it totally slipped my mind.’

He added: ‘This should have been introduced a long time ago and the Government should have done a better job of communicating to us that the law has changed on masks. There hasn’t been much publicity about this.’ 

A customer at a shoe store in Bristol wears a mask to do their shopping this morning after the new rules came in

A shopper wearing a face mask stands alongside a sign calling for the wearing of coverings at WH Smith in Shefield today

Craig Brown, who was sitting outside a Starbucks drinking coffee said: ‘I’ve started wearing a mask from today, because of the new law. But if you ask me, it should have been introduced sooner.

‘We’ve been going out and about for quite a few weeks now so what’s the point of bringing in this new law now? We don’t know what causes coronavirus, so masks are just another layer of protection.’

Anna, who was wearing a mask and had just bought two coffees said: ‘I’ve not been wearing a mask until now but as it’s now the law, I’ve started to. 

‘It is a bit uncomfortable and I can understand why people find them a bit awkward but if it benefits us, then it’s worth it.’

Britons are spending less with clothing stores hardest hit with 50% sales slump from pre-lockdown levels 

 Britons are buying and spending less than this time last year, with the High Street continuing to be ravaged amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data released by the Office for National Statistics. 

All in-store sales are 33 per cent down on pre-lockdown levels with clothes store sales slumping 50 per cent in the same period. 

Department stores have seen a 28 per cent drop on pre-lockdown levels while fuel sales are 35 per cent lower than last June.  

Total sales remain 1.6 per cent down on last year’s data while spending is 3.2 per cent down.

However, online sales are soaring as more and more people are turning to the internet to buy the goods they need. 

Department stores have seen a stunning 111 per cent increase in online sales from February, while household goods stores have seen a 103 per cent rise.  

Online spending made up almost a third of overall sales in June, a huge increase from the 20 per cent it accounted for before the crisis.

Footfall is also down 56 per cent from last year, slumping 65 per cent on the High Street, according to Springboard. 

In Central London, footfall remains 80 per cent lower than last year. 

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, said: ‘The fact that much of the workforce continues to work from home, tourists and many students are absent, as well as the government urging consumers to only use public transport for essential travel, means that footfall and therefore sales, will continue to be compromised in these retail destinations. 

‘This is highlighted most clearly in the results for Central London, which has the highest footfall volume of any part of the UK and, where despite footfall rising by +40.9% in the week that retail reopened, it remains -80.8% lower than last year.’

The figures are the latest example of the pandemic ravaging the High Street.  

Several leading British retailers have been forced to cut jobs and close stores amid the pandemic.

Marks & Spencer announced it will axe 950 staff in the first wave of a cull that will hit thousands of workers.

John Lewis and Boots have already shed thousands of staff.

Experts predict there will eventually be 250,000 redundancies across the sector. 

In more hopeful news, sales volumes jumped by 13.9 per cent in June compared with the month before.

An average of what analysts were predicting, compiled by Pantheon Macroeconomics, had expected an eight per cent rise. 

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: ‘The retail sector bounced back as the reopening of shops released pent-up demand for some retailers.

‘But the recovery is being felt unevenly across the sector, with clothing retailers remaining under significant pressure.

‘Some consumers searching to break the monotony of being at home headed for the high street, but numbers remained considerably lower than pre-Covid levels.’

High street shops are often losing out to online retailers, who have seen a boom in business during lockdown as people are in all day to receive parcels. 

ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: ‘Food sales continue above their pre-pandemic levels due to the closure of cafes, restaurants and pubs.

‘Online sales have risen to record levels, and now count for £3 in every £10 spent.

‘On the other hand, clothing sales remain depressed, and across the high street sales in non-food stores are down by around one third on pre-pandemic levels.

‘The latest three months as a whole still saw the weakest quarterly growth on record.’

In Liverpool One shopping complex this morning, signs telling customers to wear masks were up in many of the stores and a vending machine selling face coverings had been installed.

Only a fraction of people who were quizzed as they went into a Sainsbury’s store in Camden, north London, said they were certain that ordering people to cover their face was even going to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Harvey Flinder, 70, who lives in Camden, said: ‘It should have been brought in weeks and weeks ago and now it seems like the horse has bolted and we’re trying to close the door.

‘It’s what has been said so we should all do it, but not be surprised if they stop asking us to do it in two weeks.

‘Plenty of people in Sainsbury’s and some staff aren’t wearing them but maybe they have a special reason. I asked someone why they are not enforcing it and they said that they don’t want their staff to be put in confrontational situations so they’re not asking.’

Mr Flinder was joined in his views by Pia London, a 30-year-old tech entrepreneur from Camden, who said: ‘I think it should have been brought in earlier, from the first release of lockdown.

‘We’re now weeks from the ease of lockdown – for us to now make it mandatory, it just doesn’t make sense – just like a lot of what’s going on in the world.

‘I honestly don’t wear it out socialising with friends. I tend to just wear it when it’s compulsory.

When asked about Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Costa’s policy, she added: ‘I just think that they are doing what the people are thinking.

‘They’re the public and are just reacting to what everyone else is feeling. Why should they have to enforce it? It will mean more security staff. But I don’t want to be the only person without a mask on.’

Raj Kalsi, a 36-year-old council worker from Woolwich in south east London, said: ‘I think it’s a good idea.

‘Personal view is that I’m just following the guidelines, but I don’t think it works. It’s not compulsory everywhere else and there are mixed messages about where to wear them when you go to eat.

‘I don’t wear a mask normally and I work in schools where you just can’t social distance.’

Meanwhile, some shoppers would choose not to wear a mask, but only put them on to go in shops because it’s ‘the law.’

A 66-year-old woman from Kentish Town in north London, who did not want to be named, said: ‘At this late stage in the pandemic wearing a mask makes little difference.

‘At the beginning, in March, I would quite happily have complied. People were catching it here, I heard there were cases here at this supermarket but now it’s too late.

‘I never wear a mask, it’s just so uncomfortable – I can’t breathe. I only wear the mask because I’m complying with the law.’

Jenny Hughes, 59, a postal worker from Camden, said: ‘I think it’s a bit late. That ship has sailed.

‘When it wasn’t compulsory on the busses people were wearing masks but now they have to they’re just wearing them on their chin or not covering their nose so it will be the same in shops.

‘I wear a mask because of the law. I haven’t been wearing it before because I didn’t have to.’

A 67-year-old man, also from Camden, said: ‘I’m not sure if the compulsory masks in shops policy is a good thing. I think there’s enough air and space around us for us to not pick up germs.

‘Sometimes I wonder if it’s exaggerated a little bit.

‘I normally don’t wear the mask but I will if it’s compulsory. I will on the bus. I’m slowly just getting used to it.

‘I think the government felt it’s way as it went along, if we had a Labour government it wouldn’t be any different.’

But others were in support of the policy and had already started wearing masks in shops before they were told to.

Others were hopeful it would work, but admitted they disliked wearing the uncomfortable face coverings.

A.R Marriot, 73, from Kentish Town, said: ‘I have no problems with wearing a mask. I think with shops, after all, you are in close proximity with people.

‘I just took it off when I came out of the shop and it’s only a minor inconvenience but life’s a bit inconvenient in the first place.

‘One has to tow the line a little bit with government recommendations.

‘It’s debatable if it will help, I’m not medically qualified but if the experts say it will help we have to take their word for it.

‘It’s not really much to ask. It’s for our safety and the sooner it’s over the better.’

When talking about Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Costa, he added: It’s ridiculous that they won’t challenge people as everyone in there was wearing a mask anyway.

‘I’m very surprised at then saying they are not going to enforce it because when the virus started they were very strict with social distancing.’

Gemma Sharp, 36, an NHS worker from Kentish Town, said: ‘It’s a good idea.

‘I work in the NHS and I think that anything we can do to help stop the spread of the virus is good.

‘There’s a lot of evidence to support it so why not?

‘I think it’s a bit strange some of the shops aren’t enforcing it. I wonder what their take on the situation is.’ 

A shopper wearing a face mask while holding clothes in Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street in London this morning

A shopper wearing a face mask in a Waitrose store in East London today as face coverings become mandatory in shops

Catherin Gauci, 79, from Camden, said: ‘I think it’s a good idea. For the sake of the population to help stop the spread of the disease. I don’t want to go into another lockdown, it was horrible – like a ghost town.

‘I don’t like the masks because they are too hot and you need to have a breather because it’s hard to breathe with them on.’

Andy Wright, a 26-year-old software engineer living in Camden said: ‘I think it’s overdue but it’s a good idea regardless of whether it’s late or not.

‘I started wearing the mask in shops last week. It can’t be bad to wear one and I think they work.

How the new rules on takeaways and sandwich shops have confused the public AND ministers 

Industry bodies and opposition MPs have been urging ministers to clarify whether customers have to wear face coverings in takeaways and sandwich shops in England.

The criticism comes after days of mixed messages with the Health Secretary and Boris Johnson’s official spokesman contradicting each other on the matter.

It was only yesterday that the Government confirmed customers will be required to wear a mask when buying food and drink to take away from cafes and shops, like Pret A Manger.

It comes after much confusion from ministers over the past fortnight about whether they should be made mandatory.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, for example, were pictured wearing masks at a Pret a Manger in Westminster – while Michael Gove was photographed in the sandwich shop without one.

Then last Wednesday morning Matt Hancock announced coverings would be compulsory in sandwich shops such as Pret a Manger.

But later that day the Health Secretary was contradicted by Downing Street when the Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted this was not the case.

It was then contradicted by Department of Health officials who confirmed masks would be mandatory from July 24 in line with all other shops.

The next day, Business Secretary Alok Sharma told Sky News masks would not be necessary when buying food to takeaway. ‘It won’t be compulsory but we would certainly encourage it,’ he said.

‘If I leave home and think I’m going to go inside somewhere I wear one and I do it voluntarily.

On Sainsbury’s, he said: ‘I think it’s hard, I can see why they don’t want their staff to have to enforce it – if people resist the staff aren’t police, they’re hired to work in the shop.’

Phil Wilkinson, 56, who works at Cambridge University, said: ‘It’s inevitable I guess, I can’t say I like the idea but you have to be responsible.

‘A lot of people think wearing a mask is pointless but from what I have seen they reduce or fully prevent the spread of moisture.

‘I don’t wear one normally until I’m out and about and have to.

On Sainsbury’s he said: ‘it’s up to individual business really. I certainly am going to wear one now when I go inside the shop and take it off when I come out.

‘From a safety point of view we can’t be complacent, I know people who have died.

‘I’m surprised they are not enforcing it, I guess they don’t want to discourage some customers but if people object there are going to be problems. In the end, it’s down to individual responsibility.’ 

Susan Green, 57, from Liverpool, was wearing a clear visor, which she had bought from a nearby shop, as she waited for HMV to open.

She said: ‘I think it is a little bit late to have introduced this and lots of people I’ve seen this morning are not even wearing one. It won’t put me off coming to the shops because I’ll be out anyway but it does seem a bit unnecessary.’

Accounting and finance student Frank Boakye said he had been opting to wear a mask since lockdown began. ‘It’s for my own protection,’ the 29-year-old added.

He had been into Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre to visit the Post Office on Friday, but otherwise avoided the shops, he said. ‘Everyone I saw in the Post Office was wearing a mask,’ he said. ‘It’s a very good idea.’

He added: ‘I’ve been studying for my dissertation – so I haven’t been out much.’

Judith Molloy, 72, from St Helens, was wearing a mask as she did some shopping in Liverpool One but said she had started using a face covering to go to the shops some time ago.

She said: ‘I’m vulnerable and so is my husband. I think this should have started from day one. I was on the bus this morning and people were getting on with no masks. If you go in to a shop without a mask I don’t think anyone is going to say anything. I think people are more relaxed now.’

Loryn Fortune, trainee department manager at clothing store & Other Stories in Liverpool One, said people would not be asked to leave their shop if they weren’t wearing a face covering.

She said: ‘We have signage on the window, we’ve got signage up as you enter the shop and then it’s just a polite nudge from us at the door. 

‘We can’t enforce it and we don’t want to cause a big scene so we’ll just politely remind people. We’re also aware that people have invisible illnesses.’

She said customers had been co-operative since the store reopened post-lockdown and around half of shoppers were already wearing coverings before today’s tighter guidance was introduced.

She added: ‘I’m sure we’ll have a few people who won’t want to wear them but I’m hoping people realise they have got to look after each other and not just themselves.’

Opinion polls suggest the majority support the change, which will bring England into line with many countries around the world, including France, Germany and Spain.

Today, care minister Helen Whately defended the short notice regarding the issuing of guidance on wearing face coverings in shops in England.

A shopper wearing a face mask in Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street in London this morning

A Vision Express staff member wearing a face mask speaks to a woman outside the store in Bristol this morning

People in Bristol wear masks to do their shopping as they queue up outside a Barclays bank this morning

A woman tries on shoes in a shop in Bristol this morning while wearing a face mask after the new rules were brought in

As new regulations come into force today after rules were announced yesterday, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Well, it has been talked about a certain amount over recent days and weeks.’

Homemade face masks should preferably be three layers, experts say

Home-made face coverings need to be at least two layers and preferably three to curb the spread of Covid-19, new research suggests.

Experts found one layer of cotton T-shirt material is fairly effective as a barrier against droplets expelled during speaking, but two are ‘significantly better at reducing the droplet spread caused by coughing and sneezing’.

Three layers would be even better, the researchers said, and their study found surgical disposable masks offer the best protection of all.

In England, the Department of Health has published guidance for the public on how to make a home-made mask. It recommends ‘two or three 25cm x 25cm squares of cotton fabric’ sewn together and attached to the ears with elastic.

The Government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have been keen to advise people to make their own cloth face coverings in the hope surgical masks will be reserved for health workers.

For the new study, published in the journal Thorax, experts from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, tested three types of masks.

Their one-layer face covering was made using a cotton T-shirt material, the two-layer covering was prepared by sewing two strips together, and the third was a surgical mask.

A tailored LED lighting system and a high-speed camera were used to capture the light scattered by droplets and aerosols expelled during speaking, coughing and sneezing while wearing the different types of mask.

The volunteer who took part was healthy with no respiratory infection. Tissue paper was put up the nose to stimulate sneezing.

The researchers concluded: ‘From the captured video it can be observed that, for speaking, a single-layer cloth face covering reduced the droplet spread but a double-layer covering performed better.

‘Even a single-layer face covering is better than no face covering. However, a double-layer cloth face covering was significantly better at reducing the droplet spread caused by coughing and sneezing.

‘A surgical mask was the best among all the tested scenarios in preventing droplet spread from any respiratory emission. These visualisations show the value of using face masks and the difference between types of masks.’

The home-made masks in the study were made with 175 g/m2 cotton fabric, with a thread count of 170 per inch.

The researchers said other factors contribute to the effectiveness of cloth face masks, such as design and fit, as well as the frequency of washing. 

She added that some people are exempt from the regulations due to health conditions, saying: ‘What we are saying is that we are not expecting people to carry proof that they are exempt. There are some people who are exempt from this.

‘We are expecting people to be reasonable about this. And we don’t want to see members of the public accosted for not wearing a face mask. We absolutely want the vast majority of people to be wearing face masks when they are going into shops.’

At the Westminster branch of Pret a Manger where several ministers were seen prior to the recess, customer John, 61, said this morning that he was happy to wear a face covering.

He said: ‘I think it’s just a matter of getting used to. If it does help keep the coronavirus down then I suppose it’s worthwhile. I mean, people in the far east have been wearing them for ages and they think nothing of it.’

John added the Government’s guidance on face coverings was ‘not totally clear’ on when they should be worn in coffee shops and takeaways, adding it was clearer for other shops and supermarkets. He said: ‘It’s not clear, because how do you drink a coffee if you’re having to wear a face mask?’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move was essential for preventing a second wave of coronavirus while continuing to open up the economy.

Among those struggling with masks is Kerise Vowles-Myers, who has had a panic attack while wearing one.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘I tried wearing a mask, I actually wore one, tried to wear one, last week, when I went to my local doctor’s and I had quite a bad experience. I literally had it on for two minutes and I started to have a panic attack and I threw up in public and it was quite embarrassing. 

‘I’m not quite sure why. It’s a very new experience for me having to wear one and I wasn’t expecting something like that to happen but I know that during my childhood days I’ve never liked anything over my face. 

‘It was even difficult for me to dress myself and put tops over my face so it was quite difficult. I’ve spoken to my support worker about it and asked her if she’s able to go to the shops for me just on my bad days. 

‘I don’t like being confronted and I have to explain myself and when I go out a lot of people don’t realise I’m on the spectrum so they just look at me and think ‘she’s a normal person why is she not wearing a mask’.

‘It’s very difficult and can be quite frustrating when I have to explain myself that I’m actually autistic.’ 

Today’s move completes a U-turn by the Government which initially said masks were ineffective in halting the spread of the virus.

Masks have been compulsory on public transport since July 15 after evolving scientific advice suggested they could help stop Covid sufferers without symptoms from spreading the disease.

The new guidance states face coverings will be required in takeaway sandwich shops like Pret a Manger.

Customers who queue for a sandwich can take off their mask to eat it if they find a seat, although Government sources said the practice should be discouraged. 

Entertainment venues and services are not covered by the new rules which state pubs and restaurants will be exempt, as will hairdressers, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas and museums.

However, several leading supermarkets and coffee shop chains including Sainsbury’s, Asda, Co-op and Costa Coffee have said they will not enforce the rule if customers try to enter without a mask.  

A woman looks at gifts at a shop in Bristol this morning while holding a Primark bag and wearing a face covering

A man leaves Tottenham Court Road Underground station in Central London this morning without wearing a face mask

A shopper wears a face mask in a Waitrose supermarket in East London today as face coverings become mandatory in shops

A woman wearing a face mask enters Primark on Oxford Street in Central London this morning after the new rules come in

A shopper wears a face mask while walking through the city centre of Sheffield in South Yorkshire this morning

They said it is up to police to make sure people comply. Union leaders have also voiced fears that the new rules on face coverings could put workers’ safety at risk.

Boris Johnson says anti-vaxxers are ‘nuts’ 

Boris Johnson has said people opposed to vaccinations are ‘nuts’ as he promoted an expanded programme of NHS flu jabs.

During a visit to a medical centre in east London, the Prime Minister asked staff what they thought of anti-vaxxers, adding: ‘There’s all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts.’

It comes after several polls have suggested some Britons are feeling apprehensive about having a Covid-19 vaccine.

A coronavirus jab is seen by many experts as a key route out of the pandemic.

The anti-vaccination movement has been growing globally in recent years, fuelled in part by social media.

A paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr Andrew Wakefield – and since widely discredited – suggested a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism in children, which led to a huge drop in MMR vaccine rates.

Last year, the World Health Organisation identified ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the top 10 health threats to the world.

 

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Verbal and physical abuse [of shop staff] rose during the pandemic, and the new rules requiring shoppers to wear masks may further risk staff safety.’

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘You’ve seen over recent months the British public have voluntarily chosen to follow the guidance because they want to help slow the spread of the virus and I’m sure that will be the case with face coverings as well.’ 

Police can hand out £100 fines to people in shops, shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets who flout the rules, but the College of Policing has said officers ‘should only be required as a last resort’.

Guidance issued by the Government yesterday for England confirmed face coverings in takeaways would be mandatory, after weeks of confusion and varied messaging from ministers. 

It states that staff in premises where face coverings are required are encouraged to ‘take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law’ and can refuse entry to people who do not have a valid exemption under the rules.

Retail and trade organisations criticised the Government for taking so long to publish the new laws and guidance, having announced the measure more than a week ago, while union leaders voiced fears the rules could put workers’ safety at risk if there are abusive customers or people who refuse to wear a mask.

Costa Coffee said it would ‘not be challenging customers’ who are not wearing a mask ‘since they may have a legitimate reason as to why they are unable to wear one’.

Sainsbury’s said while it is asking everyone to continue ‘playing their part’ in helping to keep everyone safe in store by following the rules, ‘our colleagues will not be responsible for enforcing them’.

Asda said it will ‘strongly encourage customers to wear a face covering’, but added: ‘It is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wears a mask today during a visit to Tollgate Medical Centre in Beckton in East London

Mr Johnson elbow bumps a member of staff during a visit to Tollgate Medical Centre in Beckton in East London this morning

Tesco will be selling face coverings at the entrance and Waitrose said staff would be at the entrance to stores reminding customers of the requirement. Customers will be ‘required’ to wear a face covering in Greggs.

Who is exempt from wearing a face covering under the new laws?

While face coverings are now mandatory in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England, there are some exemptions. 

Section three of the Government guidance, published yesterday, sets out a list of ‘legitimate reasons’ not to wear a covering. Groups and settings include:

  • young children under the age of 11
  • those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • those who will be caused severe distress by putting on, wearing or removing a face covering
  • people 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
  • to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
  • to take medication
  • if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official
  • if you are asked to remove a face covering in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
  • if you are asked by shop staff or relevant employees to take a face covering off for identification, or by for example a pharmacist for the purpose of assessing health recommendations, or for age identification purposes including when buying age-restricted products such as alcohol
  • if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound to help with communication

It is not mandatory for shop or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face coverings but employers can ask them to do so where appropriate and where other mitigation is not in place, the guidance states.

People exempt from wearing a face covering can choose to carry and show an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign, the Government says.

McDonald’s said takeaway customers will need to wear face coverings but those who eat in the restaurant will not unless they are moving around the premises, for example to use toilets or when at self-order screens.

The British Retail Consortium called on customers to be ‘respectful’ of the new rules and criticised the length of time taken for the guidance to be published.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said takeaway outlets had been left with ‘a very short time to properly brief staff, prepare signage and take steps to encourage compliance’.

The British Medical Association said while the guidance is helpful, it has come late in the day.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the association’s council chairman, said the measures were ‘long overdue’ and added ‘the uncertainty of recent weeks has done nothing to inspire public confidence’.

Venues like restaurants, pubs, gyms, hairdressers, beauty salons, leisure centres, cinemas, concert halls and theatres are exempt from the new rules.

Dr Nagpaul warned the virus ‘does not discriminate between buildings’ and said there must be ‘an absolute assurance’ that other mitigating measures are in place at those sites, such as screens and physical distancing.

Other exemptions to face coverings include children under 11, people with breathing problems and anyone who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability.

The guidance states that people should ‘assume’ it is standard to wear a face covering when visiting a hospital, GP, care home or other primary or community healthcare setting.

Last week police chiefs were blindsided by the Government’s announcement after they were not told in advance of the plans and some police chiefs warned there are not the resources to patrol the aisles.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it was ‘unrealistic and unfair’ to expect them to patrol the aisles looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulations.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she hoped shoppers who refuse to wear masks would be ‘shamed’ into compliance.

The Government said the responsibility for wearing a face covering ‘sits with individuals’, adding: ‘Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters yesterday: ‘With shops, we would expect them to give advice to customers and remind them that they should be wearing a face covering and I’m sure the overwhelming majority of the public will do so.’

Cornwall Glass tweeted this picture, saying: ‘A gentle reminder that the wearing of face masks in shops is compulsory in the UK from today. Thanks to Ryan and Malcolm for modeling their masks so beautifully’


New coronavirus laws forcing customers to wear face masks in all shops, stations, banks and post offices come in from today


Shopper Alan Gregg (left) claimed he was at a Tesco store in Balby, South Yorkshire, at 6am for shopping this morning, ‘and the lady at the door said to me face masks are not compulsory in this store’. Tesco has been contacted for comment. Essex Council has commissioned badges (right) to help those exempt from masks who are concerned about negative reactions

The laws could be in place until at least January, and could even last a year, unless the Government decides to scrap them in the meantime.

Warning over plastic pollution impact of single use face masks

Campaigners have raised concerns over the environmental toll of throwaway plastic masks, as face coverings become mandatory in shops in England.

Using a reusable mask will help prevent thousands of tonnes of contaminated waste and plastic packaging, and still provide protection during the pandemic, Greenpeace urged.

Plastic single-use masks can end up as litter that animals can become entangled in or debris in the oceans, potentially being ingested by wildlife and harming or even killing them.

In the seas they could also degrade into tiny pieces or microplastics which can contaminate the environment and food chains, Greenpeace said.

The environmental group pointed to a study by University College London that calculated if every person in the UK wore a disposable mask a day for a year, it would create 66,000 tonnes of contaminated waste and 55,000 tonnes of plastic packaging.

Professor Mark Miodownik from University College London said: ‘For general public use, reusable fabric masks are effective and far preferable to single-use plastic masks.

‘They reduce the environmental and health risks associated with the disposal of 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste that will be produced if everyone in the UK starts wearing single-use plastic masks.’

Louise Edge, senior campaigner at Greenpeace, said: ‘Throwaway masks are the latest plastic menace to be found strewn across parks and pavements.

‘They find their way into our waterways, clogging up our rivers and seas and degrading into harmful microplastics.

‘But disposable masks are not inherently safer for general public use than reusable ones, and experts say reusable masks can protect us during the pandemic, if worn and washed properly.’

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: ‘Littering blights our communities and cleaning it up costs taxpayers’ money, which is why it’s vital we all dispose of our waste – including used items of PPE – in the correct manner.

‘We know this public health emergency has meant an unavoidable reliance on single-use plastics such as PPE. As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s clear we must pick up from where we left off and continue to lead the global fight on unnecessary single-use plastics.’

The Government and the World Health Organisation advise people to make their own cloth face coverings in the hope surgical masks will be reserved for health workers.

New research published in the journal Thorax found home-made face coverings need to be at least two layers and preferably three to curb the spread of Covid-19, and surgical disposable masks offer the best protection of all.

The public are advised by the Government to wash their hands before putting a covering or mask on or taking it off, and to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth while wearing one.

Face coverings should be stored in a plastic bag until they can be washed or disposed of, the Department of Health said.

Face coverings are already mandatory in shops in Scotland and will be compulsory in shops in Northern Ireland from August 1.

A report recently published by the Royal Society suggests that even basic homemade face coverings can reduce transmission if enough people wear them when in public.

The study, based on mathematical modelling, showed that if an entire population wore face coverings that were only 75 per cent effective, it would bring the R value, which is the number of people an infected individual passes the virus on to, from 4.0 to under 1.0, without the need for lockdowns.

Another Royal Society report suggests the use of cotton masks is associated with a 54 per cent lower odds of infection in comparison to the no mask groups, when tested in a healthcare setting.

Melinda Mills, Nuffield professor of sociology, at the University of Oxford, told a webinar: ‘So that should suggest that when you’re generally in the public that it should offer you some, not 100 per cent, but it does offer you some protection.’

Meanwhile, another study which looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries found that nations which had policies favouring mask-wearing had lower death rates.

In another piece of scientific research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, scientists calculated that wearing face coverings prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May 9, and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between April 17 and May 9. 

Experts say the risk of coronavirus transmission appears to be higher in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and wearing face coverings in small shops or enclosed shopping centres could help reduce the spread.

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem but the evidence is accumulating that they have a part to play in reducing transmission and also in protecting the wearer.’

In addition, there is also increased evidence which suggests that many people with the virus who do not have symptoms can still be contagious. 

Ideally the face coverings should be made of multilayer high quality cotton. Where possible they should be should be worn in indoor confined spaces and crowded spaces, especially where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Japan follows the three Cs, closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. When wearing a face covering, it should cover the mouth and nose with no gaps.

The WHO advises a three-layer face covering in the community – the outer layer should be water resistant, the inner should be water absorbent and the mid-layer acts as a filter.

It emphasises that a face covering alone cannot protect people from Covid-19, and must be combined with social distancing of at least a metre and regular hand washing.

The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items, as long as they cover the mouth and nose.

But scientists at the Leverhulme Centre, who studied different types of face coverings used by members of the public, say some coverings are not as effective as others, with loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, shown to be the least effective.

Prof Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre, said: ‘Attention must also be placed on how well it fits on the face; it should loop around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage.’ 

Prof Mills says cloth coverings are an effective way to protect the wearer and those around them.

She says that face masks and coverings cannot be seen in isolation and are part of a package that involves hand hygiene and social distancing. Consistent and effective public messaging is vital, she concluded.

How can you make your own cloth face covering? 

The following is the official UK advice on how to wear and make a cloth face covering 

Wearing a face covering

A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off and after use. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.

Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.

You should wash a face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.

When wearing a face covering, take care to tuck away any loose ends.

Making your own face covering

Using a T-shirt

You will need:

an old T-shirt that you do not want anymore (ideally size small or extra small)

scissors

Step 1: Cut a straight line across the width of the T-shirt (front and back) approximately 20cm from the bottom of the T-shirt.

Step 2: From a point 2cm below the top right-hand corner of the fabric, make a 15cm horizontal cut through both sides of the fabric that is parallel to the top of the rectangle.

Step 3: Cut down towards the bottom of the fabric until you reach approximately 2cm above the bottom edge. From here, make another 15cm cut that runs parallel to the bottom of the fabric to make a rectangle that can be discarded.

Step 4: To make the ties, cut open the edge of the 2 long strips of fabric. Unfold the main piece of fabric and place over the mouth and the nose. The 4 strips act as ties to hold the cloth face covering in place and should be tied behind the head and around the neck.

A sewn cloth face covering

You will need:

two 25cm x 25cm squares of cotton fabric

two 20cm pieces of elastic (or string or cloth strips)

needle and thread

scissors

Items you need for a sewn cloth face covering

Step 1: Cut out two 25cm x 25cm squares of cotton fabric. Stack the 2 squares on top of each other.

Step 2: Fold over one side by 3/4 cm and hem, then repeat on the opposite side. Make 2 channels by folding the double layer of fabric over 1.5cm along each side and stitching this down.

Step 3: Run a 20cm length of elastic (or string or cloth strip) through the wider hem on each side of the face covering. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle to thread it through. Tie the ends tightly.

If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the covering behind your head.

Step 4: Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the covering on the elastic and adjust so the covering fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping. These elastic loops fit over the ears.

This information is a guide to making a simple face covering. We do not endorse any particular method and other instructions are widely available online. Always take care to use equipment safely to avoid injury. Children should only follow these instructions under the supervision of adults.

The when, the wear and the £100 fine: Everything you need to know about donning facemasks in ‘enclosed spaces’ – from shops to airports and takeaways – as new laws comes into force TODAY

By Jack Wright for MailOnline

Face coverings are now mandatory in shops and supermarkets across England. 

Under new rules introduced by the Government today, people will need to cover their nose and mouth or face a fine of up to £100. People with certain disabilities will be exempt. 

This comes after rules requiring people to wear face coverings on public transport became mandatory last month. Initially many experts and authorities including the World Health Organisation suggested face coverings were not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 but are now recommending wearing them in indoor spaces.

– When do I need to wear face masks?

Face coverings will have to be worn in shops, supermarkets and enclosed shopping centres as well as train stations, banks, post offices, building societies, bus stations and airports.

The Government has also said that people taking out food and drink from cafes has to wear a face mask, but does not have to wear a covering if they sit in the premises.

Meanwhile, supermarket and shop staff do not have to wear masks, with several major retailers including Sainsbury’s, Asda and Costa Coffee saying they will not police the rules aggressively.  

Masks do not have to be worn in pubs and restaurants, museums, cinemas, theatres, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, spas and beauty salons, hairdressers, galleries, concert and bingo halls.

Face coverings are also thought to make no difference outdoors as the risk of transmission is low in open air. 

Failure to comply with the rules could result in a £100 fine although the police have said they will not be aggressively enforcing the law, with ministers hoping the public will show ‘common sense’ on the issue. 

– Are there any exemptions?

Yes, while face coverings will be mandatory in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England from Friday there are some exemptions.

Section three of the Government guidance, published on Thursday, sets out a list of ‘legitimate reasons’ not to wear a covering. Groups and settings include:

  • Young children under the age of 11;
  • Those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment;
  • Those who will be caused severe distress by putting on, wearing or removing a face covering;
  • People 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 a risk of harm;
  • To eat or drink if reasonably necessary;
  • To take medication;
  • If you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official;
  • If you are asked to remove a face covering in a bank, building society, or post office for identification;
  • If you are asked by shop staff or relevant employees to take a face covering off for identification, or by for example a pharmacist for the purpose of assessing health recommendations, or for age identification purposes including when buying age-restricted products such as alcohol.

If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound to help with communication.

It is not mandatory for shop or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face coverings but employers can ask them to do so where appropriate and where other mitigation is not in place, the guidance states.

People exempt from wearing a face covering can choose to carry and show an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign, the Government says. 

– How can I make a face mask from a t-shirt, kitchen towel or vacuum cleaner bag?

A YouTube tutorial by Runa Ray shows how to make a face mask without any need for sewing, using just a plain t-shirt. First of all you need scissors, pencil and a ruler, and a t-shirt you don’t mind being used to make a face mask. 

Cut out a 16′ by 4′ rectangle from the middle of the shirt, fold it in half, and measure four inches on either side. 

Then mark the t-shirt with an even number of tassels on each side and use scissors to cut them.

Turn the t-shirt inside out and separate the corner tassels, but tie the remaining ones in-between. Then with the remaining t-shirt material cut some ear straps using the hem of the shirt. Attach the straps to the remaining outer tassels and you have yourself a face mask, with no sewing involved, and using an old t-shirt. 

A slightly more complicated method has been perfected by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh  also managed to design a face mask that could be used if ‘commercial masks’ are not available during a virus outbreak.

They used a regular cotton t-shirt, which was boiled for 10 minutes and then air-dried to sterilise the material, but also to shrink it. The researchers used a marker and ruler to measure out what they wanted to cut and then formed the mask using an outer layer and then eight inner layers covering the nose and mouth.

The mask does not require any sewing, and instead involves it being tied multiple time around the face. 

The CDC has a how-to guide on its website for how people can easily make face masks out of t-shirts and bandanas

By following the simple steps in the graphic, you can create your own face mask from a T-Shirt or vacuum cleaner bag

By following the simple steps in the graphic, you can create your own face mask from a T-Shirt or vacuum cleaner bag. Even UK politicians have got in on the act, with Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, describing how she made a face mask from vacuum cleaner bags and elastic. 

She told the Daily Record: ‘I live in a small village and have been here for over 20 years. I don’t want to worry or offend people when I go out. I started researching what other countries have been doing and came across a chart with the best materials to use to make a mask out of just about anything.’

Artist reveals quick method to make a face mask from a T-shirt sleeve using just a pair of scissors

Artist Sophie Passmore showed how to make a face mask from the arm of a T-shirt

Artist Sophie Passmore, from Brighton, who helped make costumes for The Masked Singer, appeared on BBC Breakfast to demonstrate how you can quickly fashion a face mask out of an old T-shirt using just a pair of scissors, without the need for a needle and thread.

‘Just below medical material was a hoover bag. I have loads of them lying around and found Hepa-Flow bag that just goes on your Henry hoover’. 

The chart the MSP is referring to from a University of Cambridge study which shows the materials that work the best against virus sized particles.

The top three are a surgical mask, vacuum cleaner bag and tea towel.

She added: ‘I cut it up the bag and secured it with elastic. I live with my family of three who have all been self-isolating so I made one for each of us’.

‘I made it because I’m nervous of people coming up to me when I’m out walking the dog. I don’t want to have to run away from them.’

Another popular YouTube method shows how to fold up a scarf, using hair ties at either end, to make a simple and easy no-sew mask. The same method can be used with a handkerchief and doesn’t involve any sewing.

For this you need two layers of kitchen towel and one of tissue. You cut it in half, and then use masking tape on each end to ensure the mask is stiff.

Then you punch holes through either end of the mask and thread elastic bands through the holes. 

Some Japanese women have even been posting instructions about how to make a face mask from a bra.

The method is simple and involves cutting off one cup with scissors and then sewing the bra straps on, so they can be attached to your face.  

– Has there been confusion over the new rules?

Yes, opposition MPs have said it needs to be clarified whether customers have to wear face coverings in takeaways and sandwich shops in England. 

The criticism came after days of mixed messages with the Health Secretary and Boris Johnson’s official spokesman contradicting each other on the matter. 

The Daily Telegraph reported that people using sandwich shops and takeaways will be required to wear a mask, and buying food from the counter and then sitting down to eat inside the shop will be banned.  

Ministers are facing accusations that the new rules are muddled, inconsistent and illogical, with face masks not necessary in pubs, restaurants and cinemas, but mandatory in shops, takeaway shops and shopping centres. 

A woman wearing a mask walks among other shoppers – some wearing masks – on London’s Oxford Street on July 22

David Strain of Essex University said there was ‘no logic to the exclusion of theatres and cinemas’ as social distancing could not be enforced: ‘There is no reason why shopkeepers or supermarket staff should be exempt’. 

Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, told The Times: ‘While today’s guidance is in some ways helpful, the uncertainty of recent weeks has done nothing to inspire public confidence. Meanwhile, if venues such as theatres, museums and salons are not subject to these rules, there must be an absolute assurance that they can protect the public by enforcing physical distancing or putting other mitigating measures in place.’

And Jon Richards of the Unison union said: ‘Government guidance has been confusing from the beginning. The UK was late to the table on face coverings and now people don’t know what they should do. 

‘There are rules for shops and public transport, but not for other enclosed spaces such as libraries, register offices and civic centres. The public needs clarity to end the muddle.’  

– What does the science say about face coverings?

A Royal Society report suggests that even basic homemade face coverings can reduce transmission if enough people wear them when in public. 

Face coverings encouraged in English courts from Monday

Members of the public attending courts and tribunals in England are being asked to wear face coverings from next week, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has said.

The rules, which come into effect from Monday July 27, are being imposed to minimise the risk of coronavirus in HMCTS buildings, though people may need to temporarily remove masks for identification purposes.

Those speaking or giving evidence in the courtroom may also be made to remove their face coverings by a judge, but must maintain a strict two-metre distance.

Exemptions also apply to people with disabilities or health issues that make wearing masks difficult and the deaf, who may need to read another person’s lips.

Courtrooms themselves will ‘continue to be covered by the current guidance’ which says that court users may wear face coverings whilst in the courtroom, HMCTS said.

The guidance refers to the use of face coverings in English courts and tribunals only.

People attending buildings in Wales and Scotland are also permitted to wear them, but they are not mandatory. 

The study, based on mathematical modelling, showed that if an entire population wore face coverings that were only 75 per cent effective, it would bring the R value, which is the number of people an infected individual passes the virus on to, from 4.0 to under 1.0, without the need for lockdowns. 

Another Royal Society report suggests the use of cotton masks is associated with a 54 per cent lower odds of infection in comparison to the no mask groups, when tested in a healthcare setting. 

Melinda Mills from the University of Oxford told a webinar: ‘So that should suggest that when you’re generally in the public that it should offer you some, not 100 per cent, but it does offer you some protection.’ 

Another study which looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries found that nations which had policies favouring mask-wearing had lower death rates. 

In another piece of scientific research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, scientists calculated that wearing face coverings prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May 9, and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between April 17 and May 9.

– What are the benefits to wearing them?

Experts say the risk of coronavirus transmission appears to be higher in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and wearing face coverings in small shops or enclosed shopping centres could help reduce the spread. 

Keith Neal, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem but the evidence is accumulating that they have a part to play in reducing transmission and also in protecting the wearer.’ 

In addition, there is also increased evidence which suggests that many people with the virus who do not have symptoms can still be contagious.

– What do people need to know about wearing masks?

Ideally the face coverings should be made of multilayer high quality cotton. 

Where possible they should be should be worn in indoor confined spaces and crowded spaces, especially where social distancing cannot be maintained. 

Japan follows the three Cs, closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. When wearing a face covering, it should cover the mouth and nose.

– Are some face coverings better than others?

The WHO advises a three-layer face covering in the community – the outer layer should be water resistant, the inner should be water absorbent and the mid-layer acts as a filter. 

It emphasises that a face covering alone cannot protect people from COVID-19, and must be combined with social distancing of at least a metre and regular hand washing. 

The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items, as long as they cover the mouth and nose. 

But scientists at the Leverhulme Centre, who studied different types of face coverings used by members of the public, say some coverings are not as effective as others, with loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, shown to be the least effective. Prof Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre, said: ‘Attention must also be placed on how well it fits on the face; it should loop around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage.’ 

– What are the main messages about face coverings?

Prof Mills says cloth coverings are an effective way to protect the wearer and those around them. She says that face masks and coverings cannot be seen in isolation and are part of a package that involves hand hygiene and social distancing. Consistent and effective public messaging is vital, she concluded.  

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