When can we stop wearing face masks?07/19/2021
FREEDOM DAY, July 19, 2021, sees the lifting of the mandatory regulation to wear a mask in shops, pubs and on public transport.
However, it is recommended that the public still wear face coverings in certain situations.
When do we stop wearing face coverings?
All legal Covid measures will end on July 19 – with face masks and social distancing mandates scrapped and mass events permitted.
Compulsory mask wearing has largely be binned in shops and pubs, but will still be advised in certain settings.
Businesses and travel operators will be able to make their own rules on mask wearing – but without the hefty fines to enforce the measures.
Transport for London, for example, has made wearing a face covering a condition for travel on its services, like the Underground and buses.
It comes despite pleas from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to keep the measures compulsory.
Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waterstones are also among those to have announced they still want shoppers to wear masks.
On Sunday, July 11, 2021, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said new guidance will advise Brits to keep face coverings on in crowded, indoor settings.
He said: "I think it is important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we will set out tomorrow will demonstrate that."
Why do we need to wear face coverings?
Covid-19 spreads through droplets that are released when a person coughs, sneezes, laughs, shouts or even speaks.
Face coverings should be worn to protect other people from coronavirus rather than the wearer.
They should cover your nose and mouth – the two confirmed main sources of transmission.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says that the use of face masks in public places may reduce the spread of infection in the community when they are worn by people who might not realise they are infected with the virus.
When should I still wear a face covering?
Generally, the advice is that you should wear a face mask when it's difficult to socially distance and where you come into contact with people you don't normally meet.
This advice will continue to be strongly issued in hospitals and care homes beyond July 19.
While there is now no legal obligation to wear a mask on public transport it is strongly recommended that travellers continue to wear them.
Transport for London (TfL) has said passengers still need to wear a mask in stations and for the entire length of their journey.
Enforcement officers in London have the power to deny access or eject passengers who are found to not be complying with the mask requirement.
It became compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in the UK on June 15, 2020.
Wearing a face mask in shops became compulsory on July 24, 2020.
But school pupils and teachers no longer have to wear them in classrooms or communal areas.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock also previously suggested some people may choose to continue wearing masks after restrictions have been lifted.
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What were the fines if you didn't wear face coverings?
Cops and Transport for London could issue fines of £200 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) for the first offence.
Repeat offenders could have their fines doubled at each offence – up to a maximum punishment of £6,400.
Transport operators can also refuse access to services if a passenger is not wearing a mask.
Children under the age of 11 and people with breathing problems, mental illness, and/or physical disabilities are exempt from wearing masks.
Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.
However, the government has confirmed that the wearing of coverings will largely become a personal choice rather than a legal requirement from July 19 and fines will no longer be enforced.
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