The world has seen a sweeping change in the way we interact with one another and go about our daily activities. Since June 15th face coverings have been made mandatory on all public transport and this measure is soon set to evolve. With Britain opening up again, the government has announced that face coverings will be mandatory in all shops from the 24th July. The measure comes into force with the hopes of instilling more confidence and security in high-street shoppers and preventing a potential second wave.
Germany, Spain and Italy have already enforced such rules and the UK looks set to follow suit. The police will be working in conjunction with the government to enforce the guidance and ensure compliance. Those who refuse to wear a mask without a reasonable excuse can face a fine of up to £100 however there are exemptions. As on transport children under 11 and people with disabilities will not be required to wear coverings in shops. An updated and complete list of those exempt can be found on the government website. Though the rule will help be enforced by police there is a need for general compliance and the public are expected to do their part.
With the 24th July more than a week away the PM and government are facing criticism over their delayed response to the use of coverings in shops. After guidance was issued that masks should be worn in crowded and public places, many have criticised the government for not taking action soon enough. Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, highlighted the need for faster and more decisive action from the government in a statement. “Many will ask why yet again have ministers been slow in making a decision in this pandemic”. There is also concern over how the public will respond to the new measure. Though nearly half of Britain have reported wearing a mask in July there are still those who find the measures to be an infringement on freedom and face coverings to be uncomfortable. Far from the government’s hope of getting more people back to the high-street, the measure could potentially see a decrease in customers with online shopping a much more comfortable option. Some have also seen the enforcement as a recognition of the danger of the virus and feel less inclined to go out and shop than they used to.
With the potential of a second wave looming the measure doesn’t seem unreasonable. We as a society are starting to adapt to a new normal and it’s only by doing this that we will be able to move forward and kickstart the economy again.
© Whitestone Chambers