With the continuing easing in lockdown measures, the UK government has announced new rules that are coming into effect regarding face masks. More and more services and businesses are starting up after the lockdown, and as these happen, new regulations are being put into force.

As part of the ongoing efforts to combat the spread of Coronavirus in the UK, a face covering will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24th July. Wearing face masks or covers in shops is already compulsory in Scotland; however, there are different rules around the UK.

New rules for face masks in shops

The new rules will come into effect from Friday 24th July and will require you to wear a face covering or mask in shops. The rules do not apply to shop workers, according to the government minister George Eustice. Speculation about the new regulations coming into force caused some concern among retail owners and workers regarding who will enforce the new rules.

These concerns were addressed in the announcement stating that shop workers will not have to enforce the wearing of face coverings; instead, this will fall to the police. Officers will be given guidance on how to manage these new rules going forward.

Anyone that does not wear a mask in a shop from the 24th of July will face a fine of £100. The fine reduces to £50 if paid within 14 days. The new rules do not apply to places where it is not practical to wear a mask, such as pubs or restaurants.

There are some exemptions from wearing a mask in shops. Children under 11 and people with specific disabilities are nor required to wear a mask under the new rules.

Latest rules for wearing face masks in England

During the easing of lockdown measures as services resume and people return to work, new rules have been put into place. So far, these have covered public transport and public spaces like shops. The latest regulations are:

• It is compulsory to wear face coverings on all forms of public transport
• Face masks must be worn in hospitals, at appointments or as a visitor
• July 24th – it will be compulsory to wear a face mask or cover in shops

There are exceptions across these rules. Very young children, people with some respiratory issues or disabled people will not have to wear a mask.

Staying safe when out and about

While these new regulations make it compulsory to wear masks in certain places, there are still things you can do to make sure you and your family stay safe. The government has issued guidance and measures on what you can do. While these don’t eliminate the chance of contracting COVID-19, they will reduce the risks. These measures should be followed whenever possible. These safety guidelines include:

• Keep your distance from people outside your support bubble or household
• Avoid face-to-face situations with people outside your household (meetings, appointments, etc)
• Wash your hands often
• Ventilate indoor spaces
• Avoid crowds
• If possible, work from home
• Wear a face mask in enclosed public spaces

How to wear masks safely

When using a non-medical face mask, there are a few dos and don’ts to ensure it is appropriately used. To wear a face mask safely, you should:

• Wash your hands before touching the mask
• Check the mask for damage
• Make sure the mask fits properly with no gaps at the side
• The mask should cover your nose, mouth, and chin
• Avoid touching the mask
• Clean your hands before taking the mask off
• Remove the mask using the straps

How face masks prevent coronavirus

During the pandemic’s initial stages, many authorities did not make it compulsory to wear face masks. There are a few reasons for this, mainly due to not having all the information on how prevalent it was. As more information and testing became widespread, it was clear that face masks should be worn.

Evidence has come in from laboratories and statistics during the pandemic that has led governments and health organisations to make wearing masks compulsory in many places. A face covering can stop droplets from the nose or mouth spreading into the air and onto surfaces. This protects anyone around you from possible infection.

Reports coming in from across the world indicate that those countries that mandate wearing masks have seen a drop in the growth rate of cases. Data also shows that across 198 countries, those with policies for wearing masks had lower death rates.

The current evidence shows that wearing a mask benefits other people if you have COVID-19. It stops you from spreading the virus, and as there are little to no symptoms early in the disease, you could have it and not know. Therefore, wearing a mask whenever and wherever possible is the best practice going forward.

Studies that support wearing a face mask in public

A laboratory study using high-speed video found that 20-500 micrometers of respiratory droplets were created when saying a simple phrase. The study found that nearly all of these droplets were blocked by covering the mouth with a damp washcloth. Further studies in people with influenza or a cold show that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduces the viruses emitted in droplets.

Health Affairs recently published the growth rate in Columbia and how it was affected by the implementation of mask-wearing mandates. In 15 states is showed that the COVID-19 growth rate slowed by 0.9 percent after five days and 2 percent after three weeks of making masks mandatory.

A case study in late May followed two hairstylists in Missouri that had COVID-19. After having close contact with over 140 clients, no one tested positive for the virus as everyone wore a mask.

When do I have to wear a mask?

You should always check the latest guidelines for when a mask is required. Currently, you will need to wear a mask in hospitals and on public transport. From the 24th of July, you will need to wear a mask in shops and supermarkets. While these are the mandatory requirements, it is best to protect yourself whenever possible.

If you work in a place that requires you to come into contact with many people, a face mask will help protect you. If you are an employer, you must protect your staff and provide everything they need to stay safe. With this in mind, giving face masks and wearing a face covering when out and about is a good idea.

At Lindstrom, we are dedicated to helping businesses through these challenging times. As part of this, we launched our reusable face mask service. While a face mask is not considered a medical device, it can help slow transmission of viruses.

With our versatile service, you can select how many masks you require and how often you want them collected for cleaning. Staff and visitors will have access to clean and sanitised masks whenever they need them. To find out more about our reusable mask service or to order PPE, contact us today.