Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Your guide through the mask minefield


TOMORROW it becomes mandatory to wear a face covering in shops, but you do not need to do so if you have a legitimate reason not to.These include:

·       being under the age of 11

·       not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

·       if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress

·       if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

·       to eat or drink, but only if you need to

·       to take medication

There is no official card or proof that is required to show you are exempt from the rules set out by the government, and there is no requirement to provide medical evidence of your reason for not wearing a face covering. Some supermarkets have already said they will trust the word of their customers, especially as many people have what are known as ‘hidden disabilities’. Asthma suffers are among the examples. (You could put an inhaler in your pocket or have a copy of your prescription.)

Different regulations exist for wearing face coverings in different parts of the UK about which you can find out more on devolved government websites:

It is already mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport, and operators can deny service or direct someone to wear a mask. Shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage compliance and can refuse entry. In both cases, if necessary, the police have the powers to enforce these measures, including a fine of £100 (£50 if paid within 14 days). Some police forces have said that they will not be going to shops to enforce the rules, and some retailers have said that they do not expect their staff to intervene. It is not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings.

The government is also strongly encouraging the use of masks in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet, but this is not mandatory.

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Anthony Webber
Anthony Webber
Anthony Webber is an independent political commentator and founder of the umbrella body, the National Alliance for Freedom from Lockdowns.

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