Do I have to wear a face mask in restaurants, coffee shops and takeaways? The latest rules on coverings explained
Face coverings are now mandatory in taxis, private hire vehicles and hospitality venues in England, and must be worn by retail workers
The rules on wearing face coverings are now more stringent in England, as new laws have come into effect.
The change comes in response to the rapidly rising infection rates across the UK, with the Prime Minister warning that the country has reached a “perilous turning point” in its fight against coronavirus.
But what do the latest changes mean for visits to restaurants, coffee shops and takeaways? Here are all the rules explained.
Will masks have to be worn in restaurants, takeaways and coffee shops?
Government guidance states that customers are required to wear a face mask inside takeaway and coffee shop outlets, in cases where they are paying for food and drink and taking it away with them.
Such rules do not apply if you are sitting down to eat or drink inside an establishment, as is also the case for pubs and restaurants.
Speaking to Sky News, Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis said: “If you’re in a retail environment, if you’re in a shop or a supermarket, you should be wearing a mask.
“If you’re going into Pret a Manger and you are eating in Pret a Manger, which in some of their stores you can, then obviously you wouldn’t be wearing a face mask because you’re eating.
“But it’s clear, good common sense that if you’re going in to buy a takeaway, and leaving again, you’re treating it like a shop - and you should be wearing a face mask.”
Where else should I wear a face mask?
In England, face masks must be worn in a number of indoor settings, including shops, supermarkets and stations.
In a national address on Tuesday (22 September), Boris Johnson announced that coverings must also be worn by retail workers, when travelling in taxis and private hire vehicles, as well as by both staff and customers in indoor hospitality venues, except while seated at a table to eat or drink.
Additionally, government guidance encourages people in England to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, in which it is more difficult to observe social distancing, or where people are more likely to come into contact with others they would not normally meet.
Government guidance states that face masks must be worn in the following indoor settings:
- public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
- taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)
- transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
- shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
- shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
- auction houses
- premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions) from 24 September
- post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
- premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
- premises providing veterinary services
- visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
- libraries and public reading rooms
- places of worship
- funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
- community centres, youth centres and social clubs
- exhibition halls and conference centres
- public areas in hotels and hostels
- storage and distribution facilities
At the moment, people are not being told to wear masks outdoors, while exercising, or in schools or offices.
The government has said that while a face covering does not protect the wearer, it is beneficial as it may protect others from contracting an infection.
This is particularly the case if other people are infected with the virus, but have not yet developed any symptoms.
Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?
Government guidance states that you do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to do so. This includes:
- young children 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 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, but only if you need to
- to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
What are the penalties for flouting the rules?
Boris Johnson has doubled the fines for failing to wear a mask, or for breaking the recently introduced ‘rule of six’, which prevents more than six people meeting in a group, both indoors and outdoors.
The penalty will increase from £100 to £200 for the first offence, with businesses now facing a hefty £10,000 fine for breaching self-isolation rules. Fines of up to £10,000 for people who fail to self-isolate have already been announced.
The Prime Minister also pledged additional funding for the police to help ensure rules are enforced, with the option of military support to reduce the burden.