Wed, 15 Jul 2020
Supermarkets and other shops are joining public transport in making face coverings mandatory. But what do the rules mean for children, teenagers and young people?
Here's what you need to know about the new guidance for face coverings coming into force...
What is the new law?
From July 24 in England you must have your nose and mouth covered when you go shopping or risk a £100 fine. This will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. Shops and business owners will be asked to help ensure customers follow the rules but only police can issue the penalty fine.
Face coverings became mandatory on public transport in England back in June. People entering hospitals or attending outpatient medical appointments are also now expected to wear a face covering when in enclosed spaces inside.
The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
Face masks or coverings for children are not compulsory for those under 11 and should not be given to children under three.
Do the rules apply to children?
Face coverings should not be worn by children under the age of three, says the Government advice on staying safe outside the home. This is related to concerns that children that young cannot manage them properly or safely.
Children under the age of 11, alongside people with certain disabilities and breathing conditions, will be exempt from wearing a face covering under the new rules for shops and supermarkets.
But the new laws will therefore apply to older children, teenagers and young people either shopping by themselves or with family members who may need to get used to carrying coverings at all time.
Alongside many online outlets some high street shops are already responding to the change with both children's accessory shop Claire's and clothing retailer Gap among the shops selling face coverings for both children, teenagers and adults.
When it comes to public transport similar guidance already applies – where wearing face coverings on buses, trains and tubes is not mandatory for children under the age of 11.
However, many thousands of children likely to travel by public transport in September to get to and from school, there is likely to be more clarification on this policy the closer we get to the start of the new school year as transport and education bosses publish their plans.
What can be used as a face covering?
Face coverings are not the same as face masks. The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items stitched specifically for the job, as long as they cover the mouth and nose.
The public is asked to avoid using the medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE) masks to ensure these remain available for frontline healthcare workers.
What about social distancing?
The guidance says people in England should wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not always possible.
You must still not go out if you've Covid-19 symptoms even if you're wearing a mask, and must isolate at home.
Health experts are also quick to point out that face coverings are just one tool that can be used to slow the spread of coronavirus. Social distancing and regular hand washing – and getting children where possible to avoid touching their mouths and faces – remain just as important as ever and must be maintained.