Press release from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government
FACE COVERINGS MANDATORY IN SHOPS, SUPERMARKETS, SHOPPING CENTRES AND ENCLOSED TRANSPORT HUBS FROM FRIDAY
• Face coverings will be mandatory in additional enclosed public spaces from Friday - including shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs
• New measure an important step in lifting lockdown, as the public are encouraged to play their part
• Venues such as restaurants, pubs and gyms will be exempt
Face coverings must be worn in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres and transport hubs - such as train stations and airports - in England from Friday, as the government takes further steps to help curb the spread of the virus.
Under the new regulations laid today, members of the public will need to wear face coverings - for example, a fabric covering, scarf or bandana - that covers the nose and mouth in additional enclosed public spaces, as well as frequent hand washing and careful social distancing.
It will be compulsory to wear a face covering when buying food and drink to takeaway from cafes and shops. If you are in a premises where you are able to sit down and consume food or drink that you have bought, then you can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink on site.
Face coverings will not be mandatory for anyone under the age of 11, those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments that make it difficult for them to wear a face covering.
There is evidence to suggest that, when used correctly, face coverings may reduce the likelihood of someone with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic.
The government is telling the public to play their part and wear face coverings in order to help fight the spread of the virus, enabling further easing of national restrictions. The responsibility for wearing a face covering sits with individuals. Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.
Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“As we move into the next stage of easing restrictions for the public, it is vital we continue to shop safely so that we can make the most of our fantastic retail industry this summer.
“Everyone must play their part in fighting this virus by following this new guidance. I also want to thank the British public for all the sacrifices they are making to help keep this country safe.”
As well as shops and supermarkets, face coverings must be worn in banks, building societies and post offices. Wearing a face covering will not be made mandatory in other venues that have measures in place to protect staff and the public from COVID-19. These include:
• Eat-in restaurants and pubs;
• Hairdressers and other treatment salons
• Gyms and leisure centres
• Cinemas, concert halls and theatres;
For transport hubs in England, the requirements mean face coverings must be worn in indoor train stations and terminals, airports, maritime ports, and indoor bus and coach stations or terminals.
Anyone who doesn’t abide by the regulations - and is not exempt under one of the categories set out in the regulations - could face a fine by the police of up to £100, as is currently the case on public transport. The police have been very clear throughout the pandemic that they will “engage, explain, encourage and finally enforce as a last resort”.
People wearing face coverings are still strongly advised to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before putting one on or taking it off, avoid taking it off and putting it back on again a lot in quick succession, store it in a plastic bag in between washes or wearing, and avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth while wearing one.
Notes to editor:
• The latest guidance will be published on DHSC’s website soon.
• The regulations, made under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984, will include powers for the police to enforce the requirement to wear a face covering.
• You will be expected to wear a face covering before entering any shop or supermarket and must keep this on until you leave. If a shop or supermarket has a café or seating area for you to eat and drink, then you can remove your face covering in this area only. You must put a face covering back on once you leave your seating area.
• Wearing a face covering will not be made mandatory in venues such as:
o Hairdressers and close contact services
o Eat-in Restaurants, cafes and pubs. Face coverings will be required in cafes or take-away restaurants that do not provide table service, other than in designated seating areas.
o Entertainment venues, including cinemas, concert halls and theatres
• Visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums)
• Gyms and leisure centres
o Dentists or opticians. But NHS guidance states that face coverings should be worn in hospitals
• Those with the following circumstances are also exempt from wearing a face covering, regardless of the venue:
o Children under the age of 11
o Those with disabilities or the following health conditions:
Breathing difficulties and other respiratory conditions.
Conditions affecting their dexterity, meaning they are not able to put on a face covering.
Mental health conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders.
Other non-visible disabilities such as autism.
Cognitive impairments, including dementia, who may not understand or remember the need to wear a face covering.
Visual impairments, with a restricted field of vision, particularly if any residual vision is at the lower edge of the normal field of view.
Impairments which would make it difficult to put on or take off a face covering safely, accurately, consistently or without pain.
• This list of exemptions is not exhaustive and extends to anyone with justifiable reason for not wearing one on the grounds of health or disability.
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):
• young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
• 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 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, and you do not have a face covering with you
• to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
• in order to take medication
• if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
• If asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
• If asked to do so by shop staff for identification, the purpose of assessing health recommendations, such as a pharmacist, or for 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. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
• It is not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings although we strongly recommend that employers consider their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place. Employees should continue to follow ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines to reduce the proximity and duration of contact between employees. Businesses are already subject to legal obligations to protect their staff under existing employment law. This means taking appropriate steps to provide a safe working environment, which may include face coverings where appropriate, alongside other mitigation such as perspex screens to separate workers from customers.
• Further regulations will come into force on Saturday 25 July, to open more businesses and venues to the public. This will include swimming pools and water parks, indoor fitness and dance studios, gyms and sport courts.
• On enforcement in transport hubs, transport and hub operators will be expected to remind passengers of the law and if necessary ask people to leave a transport hub if they are not wearing a face covering. It will be for the Police (and British Transport Police on the rail network) to enforce £100 Fixed Term Penalties, or remove people from services. TfL will have the same enforcement and prosecution powers in TfL transport hubs as they currently have in TfL carriages.
Essex organisations respond to COVID-19 impacts on BAME communities
Public services across Greater Essex (Essex, Southend and Thurrock) have set up a task group to respond to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
The group will also share national and local guidance and identify employment sectors where targeted interventions could help reduce disparities, such as those working within the taxi and security industries. It is also exploring commissioning research, ensuring that targeted risk assessments for BAME employees across public services are taking place, and that measures are being put in place to protect staff.
Two recent reports from Public Health England[i] highlighted that the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups is disproportionately high compared to other groups.
Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS)[ii] show that those from a BAME background are more likely to be at risk of being infected with COVID-19. Factors affecting risk of infection are likely to include where they live, socio-economic position, who they live with, and their occupational exposure to the disease.
Taking all these factors and age into account:
Men are much more likely to catch COVID-19 than women in all groups
Black men are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white men
Bangladeshi and Pakistani men are 1.5 times more likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white men
Indian men are 1.6 times more likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white men
Black women are 1.4 times more likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white women
The task group has been set up by Essex Resilience Forum (ERF), a partnership of the organisations who respond to emergencies. The group includes representatives from Essex, Southend and Thurrock councils, and health services. It has links into BAME employee networks and faith and community organisations to identify and address local concerns and action that can be taken to reduce disparities in risks and outcomes.
Rt Revd Roger Morris, Bishop of Colchester and chair of ERF’s Faith and Communities Tactical Coordination Group, which is leading this work, said: “The evidence is clear that COVID-19 does not affect all population groups equally. We know that infection and death rates from COVID-19 have been higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups. We need to address this. We welcome the PHE report ‘Beyond the data: understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups’ and want to take this work further. We are keen to listen to BAME residents and employees and to identify practical actions that we can all take to reduce the disparities and protect each other. The wider determinants of health include a wide range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors. The complexity of the task should not deter us. We want to strive for a fairer, healthier and more just society for all people. We want all people to thrive."
Director for Public Health at Essex County Council, Dr Mike Gogarty said: “Coronavirus has not gone away so everybody should still be cautious – keep your distance with adherence to a two metre gap as much as you possible can, wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering in public and be mindful that others may be more vulnerable than you are. Please don’t go out if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Our five-point guidance to help Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents know the risks and what they can do to protect themselves and their families is a positive first step but there is more we will do through this task group.”
Director for Public Health at Southend Council, Krishna Ramkhelawon said: “We are concerned for the public health of all residents and recognise that COVID-19 has affected some communities more. BAME workers who serve the public every day continue to be at risk so I welcome that the task force will look into this.”
Southend.gov.uk coronavirus hub: for the above guidance and for Coronavirus safety tips for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers and passengers. Taxi and private hire drivers are identified as at higher risk because of their work. Many in Essex are from BAME backgrounds. Local councils and ERF produced these safety tips in June 2020
https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus For Government, NHS and Public Health England coronavirus guidance and research.
Public Health England: COVID-19: Review of disparities in risks and outcomes;
Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups
ONS: Coronavirus-COVID-19 related deaths by ethnic group, England and Wales: 2 March to 15 May 2020
How Essex residents can practice their faith safely during pandemic
Faith groups across Essex have given advice on how communities can practice their faith and observe and celebrate religious events and festivals.
With Ascension Day, Eid-Al-Fitr and Shavout all coming up over the next week, faith leaders want to help communities celebrate with their loved ones while staying safe.
Many faith groups are holding virtual sessions for you to worship together while staying safe at home.
If you’re planning to send gifts to family and friends during the holy period of Eid, you can send your gifts in the post or make donations to local causes.
The Muslim Council of Britain has issued guidance and posters that Mosques and community leaders might find useful: https://mcb.org.uk/press-releases/eid-al-fitr-2020/
Faith and community representatives from across Essex, Southend and Thurrock will continue to discuss to hold discussions locally about the concerns and priorities of communities.
Partners across Essex have collaborated to provide support to people seeking bereavement support during a time when restrictions for mourning rituals and funerals are in place. Visit: https://www.essex.gov.uk/coronavirus-and-faith/bereavement-support - support to access across Essex.
Chair of the Essex Resilience Forum, and Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Rick Hylton, said: “While there are still some restrictions in place that will affect how you would usually observe and celebrate religious events and festivals, we’re seeing lots of faith groups coming together to suggest ways we can still worship together.
“Whether you pray at home alone or with those you live with, or you join in with a virtual session, we want everybody to stay safe.
“Make sure to keep an eye on your food while cooking and stay alert to fire risks in your home. If you do leave the house for exercise or shopping, keep your distance from others and wash your hands as soon as you get back home.”