Press "Enter" to skip to content

Confusion and anger on day one of new face mask law

Brawls broke out in supermarket aisles across England today as shoppers confronted other customers for not wearing masks, while staff at a McDonald’s kicked out diners for not covering their faces.  

Senior police figures urged retailers to enforce the new laws forcing customers to wear face masks in all shops, stations, banks and post offices, but there was confusion across the country with different businesses having different policies on coverings.

Sainsbury’s, Asda, Co-Op and Costa Coffee are among the firms saying they would not police the coronavirus rules, which also require people to cover their faces in all transport hubs, shopping centres and petrol stations.

McDonald’s, on the other hand, are enforcing the rules, with customers in a Chelmsford, Essex branch ordered to leave for not wearing a mask. 

The fast food giant said takeaway customers will need to wear the masks but those who eat in the restaurant will not.

Meanwhile, customers reported seeing fights break out in supermarkets, with masked shoppers confronting those not wearing a covering. 

One person wrote: ’10:05am I entered Sainsbury’s, 10:08am there’s a fight in the second isle because someone hasn’t got a mask on and the lady with her kid was panicking and shouting at the anti masker ….. end result? 

‘Lady picks up a tub of double cream and throws it in their face.’

Under the rules, even customers entering banks now must don a mask, but young children and people with medical conditions affected by a mask are exempt. Police are now urging shops to refuse entry to people not wearing face coverings. 

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘I would urge retail outlets to play their part in making the rules crystal clear – if you are not wearing a face covering then you are not coming in. Officers will be there to help stores if needed – but only as a last resort, as we simply do not have the resources.’

Speaking about those who might have exemptions, Mr Apter added: ‘If you’re out shopping today and you see somebody not wearing a face covering it may be because they have a hidden disability. Don’t jump to conclusions, don’t have a go at them. This is new for us all, it’s about keeping each other safe. Please be nice!’  

It comes as:

There was confusion within hours of the new rules coming into effect, with shopper Alan Gregg claiming he was at a Tesco store in Balby, South Yorkshire, at 6am for shopping this morning, ‘and the lady at the door said to me face masks are not compulsory in this store’. Tesco has been contacted for comment. 

Another Twitter user told Costa Coffee that he was boycotting their stores, saying: ‘Due to your stance on face masks I will no longer be using your outlets despite being a customer for more years than I can remember.’

Failure to comply could result in a £100 spot fine, although police forces have indicated they will only respond as a ‘last resort’. Scotland Yard said it hopes shoppers who refuse to wear masks will be ‘shamed’ into compliance. 

A mask can only be removed in a shop for a small number of reasons, such as allowing staff to check someone’s identity or age or to communicate with a deaf lip reader. Shop staff do not have to wear coverings but it is ‘strongly recommended’ that employers ask them to do so unless they have other precautions such as screens. 

In Essex, the county council has commissioned a series of badges to help those exempt from wearing masks who are concerned about negative reactions, saying: ‘I have a valid medical reason for not wearing a face mask.’ 

The new rules are contentious, with some people finding masks uncomfortable and some libertarians complaining they are being ‘muzzled’ by the state. 

Among those complaining about the rules was a visitor to dress alterations shop Village Alterations in Melling, Merseyside, which is run by Sarah Knight, 46.

She said: ‘I have five customers so far this morning and fortunately they have all been wearing masks. However one man grumbled: ‘This is ridiculous – they don’t work anyway’. And then he said it was very late in the day that the rule came in.

‘But he was still wearing one. I wouldn’t serve anyone or let anyone come in without wearing one. I would refuse to serve them. I have a mask on when people come into the shop.’

She added: ‘The virus has affected me a lot because i do a lot of wedding dress alterations and a lot of weddings have been cancelled. I just had one bride cancel this morning.’

Today, almost everyone entering cafes and shops lining the busy Kingsway road in Central London wore masks – with staff attending them claiming that the new laws should have been introduced earlier.

Andrzej Kowlski, assistant manager at Greggs, said: ‘All our customers have been very good so far. We are actually not allowed to turn anybody away, but we can advise them that they should wear a mask.

‘This morning my job has been to speak with the customers to remind them about the new law. But we are not prepared to force them to do this and we would not call the police if they protested, unless they became violent.’ 

Mr Kowlski, who was wearing a visor added: ‘The new law is a very good thing. A lot of shop staff are at risk of catching coronavirus and making face masks compulsory should have happened a few weeks ago when the lockdown started easing.’

Thomas Molley, 64, wore a black mask while he was shopping in Asda in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

The grandfather-of-four said: ‘I don’t want to get a £100 fine so I put one on.

‘Most people seemed to have them on – it seems the right thing to do and we don’t want a second wave.’

Sarah Wright, 33, admitted to not wearing one when she went in Balloons UK shop in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

The mother-of-two said: ‘I hadn’t bought one as I don’t think they do any good.

‘But I’d forgotten you have to wear one from today – I did get a few funny looks, and the staff said I should be wearing one,

‘I suppose I’m going to have to get one.’

One woman, who went into a Subway in Manchester, said: ‘I didn’t think you had to wear one if it was a food place.

‘I’m confused about the rules.’

Steve O’Brien, 28, had a mask on as he went to boots in Aintree, Merseyside.

The car supply worker said: ‘I don;t understand why we have to wear one now.

‘Surely if we needed them, then we should have been wearing on in March.

‘It all seems a bit of a muddle.’

Phil Yates, 44, an archivist who had just purchased a coffee and pasty in Greggs revealed that he had started wearing his face mask as a result of the new law.

He said: ‘I have had a face mask for quite a while but haven’t always been wearing it. But I’m wearing it now as a result of these new regulations. I think it’s a very positive thing, we all need to take more responsibility and do all that we can to help stem the increase in coronavirus. But I don’t understand why it’s taken so long to bring this new law in.’

At Paul café, Sarah Weiss was stood behind a screen wearing a mask as she served customers. She said: ‘About 30 people have come in so far and I would say that more than 90 per cent have had masks on.

‘Of those that haven’t, we just ask them nicely to wear one. We don’t want to get into arguments with our customers, so our approach is to be diplomatic. We feel much safer that people coming into the café now have to wear masks, it’s better for everybody.’ 

Rani, a shop assistant in the Co-op, said: ‘The new law has just come into force and some people have simply forgotten that they have to wear masks. It’s going to take some time for people to get used to this.

‘It’s going to be difficult to police the new law but I’m hoping that our customers will be co-operative. But to be honest, we wanted this new law a long time ago.’

Jack Smith, a water engineer was not wearing a mask as he emerged from a Pret a Manger with a coffee in his hand. When asked why he was not wearing one, he replied: ‘I just forgot. I’ve actually got one in my pocket.

‘My girlfriend actually reminded me this morning that you can now get fined if you go into a shop or café without a mask. But it’s still very early in the morning and it totally slipped my mind.’

He added: ‘This should have been introduced a long time ago and the Government should have done a better job of communicating to us that the law has changed on masks. There hasn’t been much publicity about this.’ 

Craig Brown, who was sitting outside a Starbucks drinking coffee said: ‘I’ve started wearing a mask from today, because of the new law. But if you ask me, it should have been introduced sooner.

‘We’ve been going out and about for quite a few weeks now so what’s the point of bringing in this new law now? We don’t know what causes coronavirus, so masks are just another layer of protection.’

Anna, who was wearing a mask and had just bought two coffees said: ‘I’ve not been wearing a mask until now but as it’s now the law, I’ve started to. 

‘It is a bit uncomfortable and I can understand why people find them a bit awkward but if it benefits us, then it’s worth it.’

In Liverpool One shopping complex this morning, signs telling customers to wear masks were up in many of the stores and a vending machine selling face coverings had been installed.

Only a fraction of people who were quizzed as they went into a Sainsbury’s store in Camden, north London, said they were certain that ordering people to cover their face was even going to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Harvey Flinder, 70, who lives in Camden, said: ‘It should have been brought in weeks and weeks ago and now it seems like the horse has bolted and we’re trying to close the door.

‘It’s what has been said so we should all do it, but not be surprised if they stop asking us to do it in two weeks.

‘Plenty of people in Sainsbury’s and some staff aren’t wearing them but maybe they have a special reason. I asked someone why they are not enforcing it and they said that they don’t want their staff to be put in confrontational situations so they’re not asking.’

Mr Flinder was joined in his views by Pia London, a 30-year-old tech entrepreneur from Camden, who said: ‘I think it should have been brought in earlier, from the first release of lockdown.

‘We’re now weeks from the ease of lockdown – for us to now make it mandatory, it just doesn’t make sense – just like a lot of what’s going on in the world.

‘I honestly don’t wear it out socialising with friends. I tend to just wear it when it’s compulsory.

When asked about Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Costa’s policy, she added: ‘I just think that they are doing what the people are thinking.

‘They’re the public and are just reacting to what everyone else is feeling. Why should they have to enforce it? It will mean more security staff. But I don’t want to be the only person without a mask on.’

Raj Kalsi, a 36-year-old council worker from Woolwich in south east London, said: ‘I think it’s a good idea.

‘Personal view is that I’m just following the guidelines, but I don’t think it works. It’s not compulsory everywhere else and there are mixed messages about where to wear them when you go to eat.

‘I don’t wear a mask normally and I work in schools where you just can’t social distance.’

Meanwhile, some shoppers would choose not to wear a mask, but only put them on to go in shops because it’s ‘the law.’

A 66-year-old woman from Kentish Town in north London, who did not want to be named, said: ‘At this late stage in the pandemic wearing a mask makes little difference.

‘At the beginning, in March, I would quite happily have complied. People were catching it here, I heard there were cases here at this supermarket but now it’s too late.

‘I never wear a mask, it’s just so uncomfortable – I can’t breathe. I only wear the mask because I’m complying with the law.’

Jenny Hughes, 59, a postal worker from Camden, said: ‘I think it’s a bit late. That ship has sailed.

‘When it wasn’t compulsory on the busses people were wearing masks but now they have to they’re just wearing them on their chin or not covering their nose so it will be the same in shops.

‘I wear a mask because of the law. I haven’t been wearing it before because I didn’t have to.’

A 67-year-old man, also from Camden, said: ‘I’m not sure if the compulsory masks in shops policy is a good thing. I think there’s enough air and space around us for us to not pick up germs.

‘Sometimes I wonder if it’s exaggerated a little bit.

‘I normally don’t wear the mask but I will if it’s compulsory. I will on the bus. I’m slowly just getting used to it.

‘I think the government felt it’s way as it went along, if we had a Labour government it wouldn’t be any different.’

But others were in support of the policy and had already started wearing masks in shops before they were told to.

Others were hopeful it would work, but admitted they disliked wearing the uncomfortable face coverings.

A.R Marriot, 73, from Kentish Town, said: ‘I have no problems with wearing a mask. I think with shops, after all, you are in close proximity with people.

‘I just took it off when I came out of the shop and it’s only a minor inconvenience but life’s a bit inconvenient in the first place.

‘One has to tow the line a little bit with government recommendations.

‘It’s debatable if it will help, I’m not medically qualified but if the experts say it will help we have to take their word for it.

‘It’s not really much to ask. It’s for our safety and the sooner it’s over the better.’

When talking about Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Costa, he added: It’s ridiculous that they won’t challenge people as everyone in there was wearing a mask anyway.

‘I’m very surprised at then saying they are not going to enforce it because when the virus started they were very strict with social distancing.’

Gemma Sharp, 36, an NHS worker from Kentish Town, said: ‘It’s a good idea.

‘I work in the NHS and I think that anything we can do to help stop the spread of the virus is good.

‘There’s a lot of evidence to support it so why not?

‘I think it’s a bit strange some of the shops aren’t enforcing it. I wonder what their take on the situation is.’ 

Catherin Gauci, 79, from Camden, said: ‘I think it’s a good idea. For the sake of the population to help stop the spread of the disease. I don’t want to go into another lockdown, it was horrible – like a ghost town.

‘I don’t like the masks because they are too hot and you need to have a breather because it’s hard to breathe with them on.’

Andy Wright, a 26-year-old software engineer living in Camden said: ‘I think it’s overdue but it’s a good idea regardless of whether it’s late or not.

‘I started wearing the mask in shops last week. It can’t be bad to wear one and I think they work.

‘If I leave home and think I’m going to go inside somewhere I wear one and I do it voluntarily.

On Sainsbury’s, he said: ‘I think it’s hard, I can see why they don’t want their staff to have to enforce it – if people resist the staff aren’t police, they’re hired to work in the shop.’

Phil Wilkinson, 56, who works at Cambridge University, said: ‘It’s inevitable I guess, I can’t say I like the idea but you have to be responsible.

‘A lot of people think wearing a mask is pointless but from what I have seen they reduce or fully prevent the spread of moisture.

‘I don’t wear one normally until I’m out and about and have to.

On Sainsbury’s he said: ‘it’s up to individual business really. I certainly am going to wear one now when I go inside the shop and take it off when I come out.

‘From a safety point of view we can’t be complacent, I know people who have died.

‘I’m surprised they are not enforcing it, I guess they don’t want to discourage some customers but if people object there are going to be problems. In the end, it’s down to individual responsibility.’ 

Susan Green, 57, from Liverpool, was wearing a clear visor, which she had bought from a nearby shop, as she waited for HMV to open.

She said: ‘I think it is a little bit late to have introduced this and lots of people I’ve seen this morning are not even wearing one. It won’t put me off coming to the shops because I’ll be out anyway but it does seem a bit unnecessary.’

Accounting and finance student Frank Boakye said he had been opting to wear a mask since lockdown began. ‘It’s for my own protection,’ the 29-year-old added.

He had been into Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre to visit the Post Office on Friday, but otherwise avoided the shops, he said. ‘Everyone I saw in the Post Office was wearing a mask,’ he said. ‘It’s a very good idea.’

He added: ‘I’ve been studying for my dissertation – so I haven’t been out much.’

Judith Molloy, 72, from St Helens, was wearing a mask as she did some shopping in Liverpool One but said she had started using a face covering to go to the shops some time ago.

She said: ‘I’m vulnerable and so is my husband. I think this should have started from day one. I was on the bus this morning and people were getting on with no masks. If you go in to a shop without a mask I don’t think anyone is going to say anything. I think people are more relaxed now.’

Loryn Fortune, trainee department manager at clothing store & Other Stories in Liverpool One, said people would not be asked to leave their shop if they weren’t wearing a face covering.

She said: ‘We have signage on the window, we’ve got signage up as you enter the shop and then it’s just a polite nudge from us at the door. 

‘We can’t enforce it and we don’t want to cause a big scene so we’ll just politely remind people. We’re also aware that people have invisible illnesses.’

She said customers had been co-operative since the store reopened post-lockdown and around half of shoppers were already wearing coverings before today’s tighter guidance was introduced.

She added: ‘I’m sure we’ll have a few people who won’t want to wear them but I’m hoping people realise they have got to look after each other and not just themselves.’

Opinion polls suggest the majority support the change, which will bring England into line with many countries around the world, including France, Germany and Spain.

Today, care minister Helen Whately defended the short notice regarding the issuing of guidance on wearing face coverings in shops in England.

As new regulations come into force today after rules were announced yesterday, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Well, it has been talked about a certain amount over recent days and weeks.’

She added that some people are exempt from the regulations due to health conditions, saying: ‘What we are saying is that we are not expecting people to carry proof that they are exempt. There are some people who are exempt from this.

‘We are expecting people to be reasonable about this. And we don’t want to see members of the public accosted for not wearing a face mask. We absolutely want the vast majority of people to be wearing face masks when they are going into shops.’

At the Westminster branch of Pret a Manger where several ministers were seen prior to the recess, customer John, 61, said this morning that he was happy to wear a face covering.

He said: ‘I think it’s just a matter of getting used to. If it does help keep the coronavirus down then I suppose it’s worthwhile. I mean, people in the far east have been wearing them for ages and they think nothing of it.’

John added the Government’s guidance on face coverings was ‘not totally clear’ on when they should be worn in coffee shops and takeaways, adding it was clearer for other shops and supermarkets. He said: ‘It’s not clear, because how do you drink a coffee if you’re having to wear a face mask?’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move was essential for preventing a second wave of coronavirus while continuing to open up the economy.

Among those struggling with masks is Kerise Vowles-Myers, who has had a panic attack while wearing one.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘I tried wearing a mask, I actually wore one, tried to wear one, last week, when I went to my local doctor’s and I had quite a bad experience. I literally had it on for two minutes and I started to have a panic attack and I threw up in public and it was quite embarrassing. 

‘I’m not quite sure why. It’s a very new experience for me having to wear one and I wasn’t expecting something like that to happen but I know that during my childhood days I’ve never liked anything over my face. 

‘It was even difficult for me to dress myself and put tops over my face so it was quite difficult. I’ve spoken to my support worker about it and asked her if she’s able to go to the shops for me just on my bad days. 

‘I don’t like being confronted and I have to explain myself and when I go out a lot of people don’t realise I’m on the spectrum so they just look at me and think ‘she’s a normal person why is she not wearing a mask’.

‘It’s very difficult and can be quite frustrating when I have to explain myself that I’m actually autistic.’ 

Today’s move completes a U-turn by the Government which initially said masks were ineffective in halting the spread of the virus.

Masks have been compulsory on public transport since July 15 after evolving scientific advice suggested they could help stop Covid sufferers without symptoms from spreading the disease.

The new guidance states face coverings will be required in takeaway sandwich shops like Pret a Manger.

Customers who queue for a sandwich can take off their mask to eat it if they find a seat, although Government sources said the practice should be discouraged. 

Entertainment venues and services are not covered by the new rules which state pubs and restaurants will be exempt, as will hairdressers, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas and museums.

However, several leading supermarkets and coffee shop chains including Sainsbury’s, Asda, Co-op and Costa Coffee have said they will not enforce the rule if customers try to enter without a mask.  

They said it is up to police to make sure people comply. Union leaders have also voiced fears that the new rules on face coverings could put workers’ safety at risk.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Verbal and physical abuse [of shop staff] rose during the pandemic, and the new rules requiring shoppers to wear masks may further risk staff safety.’

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘You’ve seen over recent months the British public have voluntarily chosen to follow the guidance because they want to help slow the spread of the virus and I’m sure that will be the case with face coverings as well.’ 

Police can hand out £100 fines to people in shops, shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets who flout the rules, but the College of Policing has said officers ‘should only be required as a last resort’.

Guidance issued by the Government yesterday for England confirmed face coverings in takeaways would be mandatory, after weeks of confusion and varied messaging from ministers. 

It states that staff in premises where face coverings are required are encouraged to ‘take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law’ and can refuse entry to people who do not have a valid exemption under the rules.

Retail and trade organisations criticised the Government for taking so long to publish the new laws and guidance, having announced the measure more than a week ago, while union leaders voiced fears the rules could put workers’ safety at risk if there are abusive customers or people who refuse to wear a mask.

Costa Coffee said it would ‘not be challenging customers’ who are not wearing a mask ‘since they may have a legitimate reason as to why they are unable to wear one’.

Sainsbury’s said while it is asking everyone to continue ‘playing their part’ in helping to keep everyone safe in store by following the rules, ‘our colleagues will not be responsible for enforcing them’.

Asda said it will ‘strongly encourage customers to wear a face covering’, but added: ‘It is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules.’

Tesco will be selling face coverings at the entrance and Waitrose said staff would be at the entrance to stores reminding customers of the requirement. Customers will be ‘required’ to wear a face covering in Greggs.

McDonald’s said takeaway customers will need to wear face coverings but those who eat in the restaurant will not unless they are moving around the premises, for example to use toilets or when at self-order screens.

The British Retail Consortium called on customers to be ‘respectful’ of the new rules and criticised the length of time taken for the guidance to be published.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said takeaway outlets had been left with ‘a very short time to properly brief staff, prepare signage and take steps to encourage compliance’.

The British Medical Association said while the guidance is helpful, it has come late in the day.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the association’s council chairman, said the measures were ‘long overdue’ and added ‘the uncertainty of recent weeks has done nothing to inspire public confidence’.

Venues like restaurants, pubs, gyms, hairdressers, beauty salons, leisure centres, cinemas, concert halls and theatres are exempt from the new rules.

Dr Nagpaul warned the virus ‘does not discriminate between buildings’ and said there must be ‘an absolute assurance’ that other mitigating measures are in place at those sites, such as screens and physical distancing.

Other exemptions to face coverings include children under 11, people with breathing problems and anyone who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability.

The guidance states that people should ‘assume’ it is standard to wear a face covering when visiting a hospital, GP, care home or other primary or community healthcare setting.

Last week police chiefs were blindsided by the Government’s announcement after they were not told in advance of the plans and some police chiefs warned there are not the resources to patrol the aisles.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it was ‘unrealistic and unfair’ to expect them to patrol the aisles looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulations.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she hoped shoppers who refuse to wear masks would be ‘shamed’ into compliance.

The Government said the responsibility for wearing a face covering ‘sits with individuals’, adding: ‘Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters yesterday: ‘With shops, we would expect them to give advice to customers and remind them that they should be wearing a face covering and I’m sure the overwhelming majority of the public will do so.’

The laws could be in place until at least January, and could even last a year, unless the Government decides to scrap them in the meantime.

Face coverings are already mandatory in shops in Scotland and will be compulsory in shops in Northern Ireland from August 1.

A report recently published by the Royal Society suggests that even basic homemade face coverings can reduce transmission if enough people wear them when in public.

The study, based on mathematical modelling, showed that if an entire population wore face coverings that were only 75 per cent effective, it would bring the R value, which is the number of people an infected individual passes the virus on to, from 4.0 to under 1.0, without the need for lockdowns.

Another Royal Society report suggests the use of cotton masks is associated with a 54 per cent lower odds of infection in comparison to the no mask groups, when tested in a healthcare setting.

Melinda Mills, Nuffield professor of sociology, at the University of Oxford, told a webinar: ‘So that should suggest that when you’re generally in the public that it should offer you some, not 100 per cent, but it does offer you some protection.’

Meanwhile, another study which looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries found that nations which had policies favouring mask-wearing had lower death rates.

In another piece of scientific research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, scientists calculated that wearing face coverings prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May 9, and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between April 17 and May 9. 

Experts say the risk of coronavirus transmission appears to be higher in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and wearing face coverings in small shops or enclosed shopping centres could help reduce the spread.

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem but the evidence is accumulating that they have a part to play in reducing transmission and also in protecting the wearer.’

In addition, there is also increased evidence which suggests that many people with the virus who do not have symptoms can still be contagious. 

Ideally the face coverings should be made of multilayer high quality cotton. Where possible they should be should be worn in indoor confined spaces and crowded spaces, especially where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Japan follows the three Cs, closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. When wearing a face covering, it should cover the mouth and nose with no gaps.

The WHO advises a three-layer face covering in the community – the outer layer should be water resistant, the inner should be water absorbent and the mid-layer acts as a filter.

It emphasises that a face covering alone cannot protect people from Covid-19, and must be combined with social distancing of at least a metre and regular hand washing.

The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items, as long as they cover the mouth and nose.

But scientists at the Leverhulme Centre, who studied different types of face coverings used by members of the public, say some coverings are not as effective as others, with loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, shown to be the least effective.

Prof Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre, said: ‘Attention must also be placed on how well it fits on the face; it should loop around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage.’ 

Prof Mills says cloth coverings are an effective way to protect the wearer and those around them.

She says that face masks and coverings cannot be seen in isolation and are part of a package that involves hand hygiene and social distancing. Consistent and effective public messaging is vital, she concluded.

Face coverings are now mandatory in shops and supermarkets across England. 

Under new rules introduced by the Government today, people will need to cover their nose and mouth or face a fine of up to £100. People with certain disabilities will be exempt. 

This comes after rules requiring people to wear face coverings on public transport became mandatory last month. Initially many experts and authorities including the World Health Organisation suggested face coverings were not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 but are now recommending wearing them in indoor spaces.

Face coverings will have to be worn in shops, supermarkets and enclosed shopping centres as well as train stations, banks, post offices, building societies, bus stations and airports.

The Government has also said that people taking out food and drink from cafes has to wear a face mask, but does not have to wear a covering if they sit in the premises.

Meanwhile, supermarket and shop staff do not have to wear masks, with several major retailers including Sainsbury’s, Asda and Costa Coffee saying they will not police the rules aggressively.  

Masks do not have to be worn in pubs and restaurants, museums, cinemas, theatres, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, spas and beauty salons, hairdressers, galleries, concert and bingo halls.

Face coverings are also thought to make no difference outdoors as the risk of transmission is low in open air. 

Failure to comply with the rules could result in a £100 fine although the police have said they will not be aggressively enforcing the law, with ministers hoping the public will show ‘common sense’ on the issue. 

Yes, while face coverings will be mandatory in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England from Friday there are some exemptions.

Section three of the Government guidance, published on Thursday, sets out a list of ‘legitimate reasons’ not to wear a covering. Groups and settings include:

If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound to help with communication.

It is not mandatory for shop or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face coverings but employers can ask them to do so where appropriate and where other mitigation is not in place, the guidance states.

People exempt from wearing a face covering can choose to carry and show an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign, the Government says. 

A YouTube tutorial by Runa Ray shows how to make a face mask without any need for sewing, using just a plain t-shirt. First of all you need scissors, pencil and a ruler, and a t-shirt you don’t mind being used to make a face mask. 

Cut out a 16′ by 4′ rectangle from the middle of the shirt, fold it in half, and measure four inches on either side. 

Then mark the t-shirt with an even number of tassels on each side and use scissors to cut them.

Turn the t-shirt inside out and separate the corner tassels, but tie the remaining ones in-between. Then with the remaining t-shirt material cut some ear straps using the hem of the shirt. Attach the straps to the remaining outer tassels and you have yourself a face mask, with no sewing involved, and using an old t-shirt. 

A slightly more complicated method has been perfected by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh  also managed to design a face mask that could be used if ‘commercial masks’ are not available during a virus outbreak.

They used a regular cotton t-shirt, which was boiled for 10 minutes and then air-dried to sterilise the material, but also to shrink it. The researchers used a marker and ruler to measure out what they wanted to cut and then formed the mask using an outer layer and then eight inner layers covering the nose and mouth.

The mask does not require any sewing, and instead involves it being tied multiple time around the face. 

By following the simple steps in the graphic, you can create your own face mask from a T-Shirt or vacuum cleaner bag. Even UK politicians have got in on the act, with Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, describing how she made a face mask from vacuum cleaner bags and elastic. 

She told the Daily Record: ‘I live in a small village and have been here for over 20 years. I don’t want to worry or offend people when I go out. I started researching what other countries have been doing and came across a chart with the best materials to use to make a mask out of just about anything.’

‘Just below medical material was a hoover bag. I have loads of them lying around and found Hepa-Flow bag that just goes on your Henry hoover’. 

The chart the MSP is referring to from a University of Cambridge study which shows the materials that work the best against virus sized particles.

The top three are a surgical mask, vacuum cleaner bag and tea towel.

She added: ‘I cut it up the bag and secured it with elastic. I live with my family of three who have all been self-isolating so I made one for each of us’.

‘I made it because I’m nervous of people coming up to me when I’m out walking the dog. I don’t want to have to run away from them.’

Another popular YouTube method shows how to fold up a scarf, using hair ties at either end, to make a simple and easy no-sew mask. The same method can be used with a handkerchief and doesn’t involve any sewing.

For this you need two layers of kitchen towel and one of tissue. You cut it in half, and then use masking tape on each end to ensure the mask is stiff.

Then you punch holes through either end of the mask and thread elastic bands through the holes. 

Some Japanese women have even been posting instructions about how to make a face mask from a bra.

The method is simple and involves cutting off one cup with scissors and then sewing the bra straps on, so they can be attached to your face. 

Yes, opposition MPs have said it needs to be clarified whether customers have to wear face coverings in takeaways and sandwich shops in England. 

The criticism came after days of mixed messages with the Health Secretary and Boris Johnson’s official spokesman contradicting each other on the matter. 

The Daily Telegraph reported that people using sandwich shops and takeaways will be required to wear a mask, and buying food from the counter and then sitting down to eat inside the shop will be banned.  

Ministers are facing accusations that the new rules are muddled, inconsistent and illogical, with face masks not necessary in pubs, restaurants and cinemas, but mandatory in shops, takeaway shops and shopping centres. 

David Strain of Essex University said there was ‘no logic to the exclusion of theatres and cinemas’ as social distancing could not be enforced: ‘There is no reason why shopkeepers or supermarket staff should be exempt’. 

Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, told The Times: ‘While today’s guidance is in some ways helpful, the uncertainty of recent weeks has done nothing to inspire public confidence. Meanwhile, if venues such as theatres, museums and salons are not subject to these rules, there must be an absolute assurance that they can protect the public by enforcing physical distancing or putting other mitigating measures in place.’

And Jon Richards of the Unison union said: ‘Government guidance has been confusing from the beginning. The UK was late to the table on face coverings and now people don’t know what they should do. 

‘There are rules for shops and public transport, but not for other enclosed spaces such as libraries, register offices and civic centres. The public needs clarity to end the muddle.’  

A Royal Society report suggests that even basic homemade face coverings can reduce transmission if enough people wear them when in public. 

The study, based on mathematical modelling, showed that if an entire population wore face coverings that were only 75 per cent effective, it would bring the R value, which is the number of people an infected individual passes the virus on to, from 4.0 to under 1.0, without the need for lockdowns. 

Another Royal Society report suggests the use of cotton masks is associated with a 54 per cent lower odds of infection in comparison to the no mask groups, when tested in a healthcare setting. 

Melinda Mills from the University of Oxford told a webinar: ‘So that should suggest that when you’re generally in the public that it should offer you some, not 100 per cent, but it does offer you some protection.’ 

Another study which looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries found that nations which had policies favouring mask-wearing had lower death rates. 

In another piece of scientific research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, scientists calculated that wearing face coverings prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May 9, and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between April 17 and May 9.

Experts say the risk of coronavirus transmission appears to be higher in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and wearing face coverings in small shops or enclosed shopping centres could help reduce the spread. 

Keith Neal, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem but the evidence is accumulating that they have a part to play in reducing transmission and also in protecting the wearer.’ 

In addition, there is also increased evidence which suggests that many people with the virus who do not have symptoms can still be contagious.

Ideally the face coverings should be made of multilayer high quality cotton. 

Where possible they should be should be worn in indoor confined spaces and crowded spaces, especially where social distancing cannot be maintained. 

Japan follows the three Cs, closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. When wearing a face covering, it should cover the mouth and nose.

The WHO advises a three-layer face covering in the community – the outer layer should be water resistant, the inner should be water absorbent and the mid-layer acts as a filter. 

It emphasises that a face covering alone cannot protect people from COVID-19, and must be combined with social distancing of at least a metre and regular hand washing. 

The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items, as long as they cover the mouth and nose. 

But scientists at the Leverhulme Centre, who studied different types of face coverings used by members of the public, say some coverings are not as effective as others, with loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, shown to be the least effective. Prof Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre, said: ‘Attention must also be placed on how well it fits on the face; it should loop around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage.’ 

Prof Mills says cloth coverings are an effective way to protect the wearer and those around them. She says that face masks and coverings cannot be seen in isolation and are part of a package that involves hand hygiene and social distancing. Consistent and effective public messaging is vital, she concluded.  

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *