Face coverings to become mandatory – but more detail needed

Health bosses in Lincolnshire say they need more detail as wearing face coverings in shops and supermarkets becomes mandatory from July 24.

The government will announce later on Tuesday that those who fail to comply with the new rules will face up to £100 in fines.

Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of public health Tony McGinty said officials were “short on details” at the moment.

“My initial reaction is one of understanding that as places get more crowded and we have more freedoms we might not be able to keep distance, therefore face coverings might be a good thing to start doing,” he said.

Photo: Norma Mortenson / Pexels

However, he said bosses needed to know more including the type of face coverings needed or how the new rules might apply in other situations.

He said he did not know why the government had chosen to make the move now, rather than at the peak of the pandemic, but said it could have been down to people being more careful, non-essential shops being closed and an ability to keep distanced that reduced the need for masks.

Asked about pubs and restaurants he said: “For food and drink areas, wearing a mask is not straightforward by any means, it’s very difficult to eat and drink if your face is covered so they may not to go for those because it’s just not practical.

“We also have more choices about whether we go into a bar or a restaurant, whereas we may have to go into a shop or to go shopping for things.”

He said his limited experience of visiting shops recently had found people’s behaviour to “generally be very sensible around distancing and allowing the space to move around, stopping and waiting”.

Photo: Anna Shvets / Pexels

However, asked if he wore a mask he said: “No, I don’t. I keep myself distanced from other people.

“I probably go into the shop once a week or so as well, so I’m taking a fairly cautious approach at the moment, largely because of my job I can’t afford to have to self-isolate at the moment, because I’m in contact with someone with symptoms.”

It has been compulsory to wear face coverings on public transport since June 15.

There are certain exemptions however, and it is believed these will continue to apply under the latest government move. They include:

  • A child under the age of 11
  • Someone with physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that prevents wearing or removing a face covering
  • Where wearing or removing a face covering would cause severe distress
  • Those travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • Those travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm who do not have a face covering with them
  • Any need to remove it during a journey to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury
  • Eating, drinking, or taking medication
  • Those asked to remove their face covering by a police officer or other official, for example to check railcards

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