Under new rules announced by the government on Thursday 23 July, face coverings that cover the nose and mouth need to be worn in the majority of enclosed public spaces. This could be a disposable or reusable mask-type covering, or a scarf or other suitable fabric that fits securely around the side of the face.
People are also being strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where they might come into contact with people they do not normally meet.
The best available scientific evidence states that when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.
As well as shops and supermarkets, face coverings must be worn in banks, building societies and post offices. It will also be compulsory to wear a face covering when buying food and drink to take away from cafes and shops. People who have bought food or drink from a premises where it is possible to sit down will be able to remove their face covering in order to eat and drink on site.
Face coverings are also needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and GP surgeries.
Wearing a face covering will not be made mandatory in other venues that have measures in place to protect staff and the public such as eat-in restaurants and pubs, hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres, and cinemas, concert halls and theatres.
Children under the age of 11 and those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments, will also not be required to wear a face covering. A full list of those exempt can be found on Face Coverings Guidance - GOV.uk website
Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.
Anyone who does not follow the regulations - and is not exempt under one of the categories set out in the regulations - could face a fine by the police of up to £100.
Cllr Linda Haysey, Leader of East Herts Council, and Chair of the community reassurance cell of the Local Resilience Forum, said:
“Everyone in Hertfordshire has made sacrifices to help bring the infection rate down in our county but it is absolutely vital that we continue to play our part in protecting our communities and looking after those who are most vulnerable.
“Please wear a face covering to help to protect yourself, your family, your community and NHS services. Be prepared by carrying a face covering with you and using it carefully when it is needed.
“Remember that face coverings are not an alternative to social distancing, good hand washing and good hygiene. Taken together, these are the most important and effective measures that we can all take to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
The symptoms of COVID-19 are a new, continuous cough, a temperature, or losing your sense of taste or smell. You can book a Coronavirus test on the GOV.uk website or by calling 119 if you don’t have access to the internet.