29 Jul 2020

Wearing a face covering is now mandatory in shops, supermarkets, banks, post offices, enclosed transport hubs and when buying food and drink to take away in England. Read our guidance and advice on what to do if you are on the exemption list.

Face coverings are now mandatory in additional enclosed spaces (in addition to public transport, hospitals and GP surgeries)

  • shops and supermarkets
  • banks
  • post offices
  • transport hubs
  • when buying food and drink to take away.

Restaurants, pubs and gyms are exempt.

The government has published a list of people who are exempt from wearing face coverings - this includes children under the age of 11.  The guidance on exemptions suggests there is no requirement for evidence for exemption and GP practices are not required to provide letters of support for those who fall under the list of exemptions. 

However, the government has produced an 'exemption from face covering' card  you can download to your phone or print for people who are exempt from wearing a face covering which can be used to show shop staff, drivers or other members of the public to help them feel safer.

Downloadable exemption cards and other advice on face coverings, including how to make a mask at home, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home#face-coverings

Anyone who fails to wear a mask, who is not exempt, will face a fine of up to £100, which will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

In St Helens the rate of infection remains fairly low, however, local GPs are keen that people don’t become complacent to the threat of coronavirus and public health have been advising using face coverings in enclosed spaces since the beginning of June in line with a change in government policy.

A cloth face covering, which must be washed regularly, should cover your mouth and can be as simple as a scarf or bandanna that ties behind the head. Disposable face masks are also widely available to purchase in many shops and supermarkets.

Dr Mike Ejuoneatse, GP and lead GP governing body member for St Helens CCG, says:

“In line with government guidance we would remind everyone that you must wear a face covering when you go shopping.  Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you but if you are infected and have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.

“This guidance isn’t just for older people – coronavirus can have catastrophic consequences for young people too and they can pass on the virus to family members even if they aren’t showing any symptoms.  Face coverings do not replace social distancing and washing your hands regularly with soap and hot water, remains vital, as does maintaining social distancing.

“If you have a disposable face covering, when not wearing it, put them into a freezer bags, seal it up, wash your hands and it’s ready to use for next time and dispose of it responsibly when it’s finished with.  If you have made or bought your own cotton one remember to keep washing it because if there is a virus on it, putting it in the washing machine will wash it away. “

“There are vulnerable people who’ve shielded for 12 weeks who are venturing out and are nervous. I’d urge people to be conscious of others and continue to give people space and distance.  The threat has not gone away, we just need to get used to a new way of living and use common sense and courtesy.

"Please also don't be put off seeing your GP if you are exempt from wearing a mask - make sure you tell the receptionist about your exemption if you are given a face to face appointment."