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Face coverings in shops to be compulsory

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When will face coverings in shops become compulsory?

Boris Johnson has announced that face coverings in England will be compulsory from 24th July 2020.  Previously, the government advised that people should wear face coverings but you could choose not to.  The face coverings will be required by all customers entering retail stores from the above-stated date.

What is a face covering?

A face covering is a piece of material that can be secured to ensure your mouth and nose are covered by the fabric.  You can even make one at home, there are lots of videos of people making face masks on youtube etc.

Who is exempt from wearing face coverings?

Children under the age of 11 and people with certain medical conditions.

Do facemasks protect you from Covid-19?

The main transmission route is thought to be from infected saliva aerosol from speaking, shouting, singing, coughing and sneezing.  There is evidence that a face-covering does not protect you from catching COVID-19, but there have been various scientific studies that show that face coverings can prevent the spread.  Imagine, some studies state that a cough can emit from a person at a speed of 50 miles per hour, and can spread up to 2.5 metres away.  The other major concern is how long the droplets stay airborne and how they move around different indoors area.

Do my employees have to wear a face mask?

The compulsory wearing of face masks for the 24th July in England does not require your employees to wear one.  However, you do need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and refer to the government guidance to check your staff have been provided the correct PPE and safety measures.

Why did they not want everyone to wear face coverings at the beginning of lockdown?

Good question! After all, everywhere that you read about the benefits of face-covering up until now say that they don’t provide many benefits.  However, please keep in mind that COVID-19 is a new illness and there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the virus’s behaviour.  A recent experiment, The Lancet Study on the use of face coverings has shown that they reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading with a combination of social distancing and personal hygiene measures. New scientific data is appearing all of the time, and as the majority of us are not scientists it’s wise to listen to the advice on wearing face coverings.

What is classed as a shop?

There are many different types of shops, ranging from supermarkets to specialist boutique shops, but when the definition of retail is any business that provides goods or services directly to a consumer it broadens the scope considerably.  In my humble view it can’t hurt to ask your customers to wear face coverings, people are used to the new normality and it provides an extra level of protection to your clients and employees.

What will happen if I don’t wear one?

The police will be able to issue a £100.00 fine to the person not wearing a mask.  There has been no update about the fines to business owners and concern has been raised by The retail community about enforcing the use of face coverings.

Also, you can potentially infect many people around you.  You might recover from COVID-19 but the next person might not.

Does our business have to make customers wear a face covering?

If your business is classed as a retail environment that seeks goods or services to individuals, then yes your customers must wear a face covering while in your business.  Face coverings also give your customers and employees reassurance that you are providing a covid secure working area.

Do face coverings protect people from catching COVID-19?

There have been many mixed messages from various government bodies over the past months.  One moment they’re deemed non-effective, then they’ve got to be worn on public transport and now they’ve got to be worn in all shops.

Heres a great video that explains the benefits of wearing a face covering.


Legislation that applies

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 Reference Sources    

Last thoughts

  • Remember, a mask is like a last resort and not a substitute for social distancing and personal hygiene measures.
  • Don’t wear your mask when you don’t have to.
  • If the mask becomes contaminated, swap it for another one and dispose or wash the previous.
  • Should you feel you are being crowded or are being put at risk, the mask is not to protect you, so I’d recommend leaving the area.
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