Changes on wearing face coverings come into force

Friday, July 24, 2020

From Friday 24 July, it will be mandatory for most people to wear a face covering in supermarkets and shops in England.

As more shops and attractions are reopening as COVID-19 restrictions ease, health leaders at NHS South Sefton and NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are urging Sefton residents to remain alert, stay safe and to continue following all the government guidelines.

Wearing a face mask or covering lowers the risk of transmitting Covid-19 – and helps to protect shop assistants and fellow shoppers.  Over the past few weeks we have been getting used to wearing them on public transport and for GP and hospital appointments, where they are also compulsory.

According to Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, the death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.

This change means that from 24 July, as with the existing rules for public transport, if an individual refuses to wear a face covering in a shop, they will be refused entry and the police will have powers to issue a fine of up to £100.

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "As life begins to get back to some sort of normality, we must all remain vigilant and follow the government’s rules.

"If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 – a persistent cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell – you and everyone in your household or support bubble should self-isolate; you should call 119 to arrange a test; and you should cooperate with NHS Test and Trace to contain the spread.

"Even if you don’t show any of the symptoms, you could still be carrying coronavirus, so face coverings are a good way to protect others when you are out and about.

"Although face masks and coverings will be mandatory from 24 July, those with certain conditions, disabilities and children under the age of 11 will be exempt. Whether you wear one or not, we urge you to continue to stay alert, wash your hands frequently and stay two metres apart from others whenever possible."

Who is exempt?

The government has said the following people are exempt from wearing a face mask or covering:

  • A child under the age of 11
  • Someone with an impairment that could be affected by putting on a face mask
  • Someone travelling with another person who requires lip reading
  • Someone with a severe disability which means they are unable to put a mask on or it causes a lot of distress.

You may also remove your face covering for a short period if you need to take medication, eat or drink.

Government guidance on exemptions suggests there is no requirement to prove your exemption.  GP practices are not required to provide letters of support for those who fall under the list of exemptions.  However, Hidden Disabilities have produced a card that for people who are exempt from wearing a mask that they can show to staff, drivers or members of the public to help them feel safer. You can also obtain the card via the website.

You can view the latest guidance here

For more advice on face coverings, including how to make your own, visit:

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