Face masks in shops mandatory from Tuesday amid Omicron fears

In an announcement, Boris Johnson said wearing face masks will become mandatory in all shops, and on public transport, in England.
The new rules on wearing face masks in shops and on public transport in England will come into force on Tuesday.
// Face masks to again become mandatory in shops and on public transport
// The Prime Minister announced the move in the face of the new Omicron coronavirus variant

In an announcement on Saturday evening, prime minister Boris Johnson said wearing face masks will become mandatory in all shops, and on public transport, in England.

Boris Johnson confirmed the move in a press conference called after two cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus were detected in the UK.

The rules surrounding face masks were relaxed in England in July.


The Prime Minister said hospitality will be exempt from the rule change, and further details will be outlined by the Health Secretary “in the course of the next day or so”.

Speaking at Downing Street on Saturday evening, he said: “On face coverings, what we’re looking at is retail and transport, just going back to a position where you have to wear them in retail settings or on public transport.”

The British Retail Consortium, which represents the industry, said it is up to the police to enforce the measure.

“However, customers are asked to respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working shop staff,” it said.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “We are helping retailers to prepare for the change in face covering rules, but they are extremely concerned about abuse against their staff from customers who don’t want to wear a face covering in a shop.

“We will continue to urge stores to communicate the rules, but not to challenge those who refuse to abide by the rules.”

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of retail trade union Usdaw criticised the Government for its “flip-flopping” on Covid measures, adding that continual rule changes “create confusion, reduce compliance and can lead to conflict.”

The union boss added that retail staff working with the public are “deeply worried” about catching Covid-19 and that the arrival of the Omicron variant is a “further concern”.

“Wearing a face covering protects others, it should not be a personal preference, but a personal responsibility,” added Lillis.

“The Government must be clear and consistent on it being mandatory and that shopworkers are not expected to enforce the law on face coverings.”

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