Face masks rules: latest guidance as wearing face coverings becomes mandatory in cinemas, museums and places of worship in England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced face masks are to be made mandatory in museums, cinemas and places of worship

Face masks are to be made mandatory in museums, cinemas and places of worship in England, the Prime Minister has announced.

Boris Johnson announced the change in guidance at a Downing Street press briefing on Friday (31 July), stating that coverings will become compulsory in more indoor settings next month.

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Currently, face masks are already mandatory in England on public transport and in shops and supermarkets.

Face coverings will be mandatory on in cinemas, museums and places of worship on August 8Face coverings will be mandatory on in cinemas, museums and places of worship on August 8
Face coverings will be mandatory on in cinemas, museums and places of worship on August 8

Here are all the changes you need to know.

When will the law come into effect?

Face masks will become mandatory in museums, cinemas and places of worship in England from August 8.

Wearing a face covering is already compulsory on public transport, as of June 15, and in shops from July 24. This includes shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, post offices, supermarkets and sandwich shops.

Why is the UK government changing the law?

Mr Johnson said that coverings will be made compulsory in these additional indoor settings as people are more likely to come into contact with others that they do not know.

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He said: "We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

"We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings, and this will become enforceable in law from August 8."

The government has said that while a face covering does not protect the wearer, it is beneficial as it may protect others from contracting an infection. This is particularly the case if other people are infected with the virus, but have not yet developed any symptoms.

However, the decision to make face coverings mandatory marks a stark contrast to previous advice from the government, in which the effectiveness of wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus was downplayed.

How are rules being enforced?

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When announcing the new measures, the Prime Minister said that the law will be enforced by the police to ensure face masks are being worn where they are requried, and there will be a “greater police presence” to ensure rules are followed.

This will be in addition to transport operators and British Transport Police ensuring commuters are complying with the rules on public transport.

As for shops, unlike on public transport, retail staff will not be expected to enforce the rules - the new measures will instead be upheld by the police.

Those who do not comply with the new measures could face fines of up to £100, although this figure will be reduced to £50 if people pay within 14 days.

Are there any exemptions?

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Children under the age of 11, disabled people and those who have breathing difficulties will be exempt from wearing face coverings in shops, much like they are on public transport.

All other members of the public must comply with the rules.

Should face coverings be worn elsewhere?

Several airlines, including easyJet and Ryanair, have introduced a requirement for passengers to wear face masks on board.

At the moment, people are not being told to wear face masks outdoors, while exercising, or in schools or offices in England.

What sort of face covering should I use?

The government has advised that scarves, or homemade cotton coverings, that cover the nose and mouth, and other bought masks that are not the same as those used by the health service are fine to wear.

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Surgical masks should be kept for use by health professionals.

Officials have said that people can make a face covering at home, but added it is key to ensure it covers your nose and mouth.

Can I still go out if I have symptoms but wear a mask or covering?

You cannot go out under any circumstances if you have symptoms of coronavirus.

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If you develop symptoms, you and other members of your household should self-isolate at home.

Are face masks and covering scientifically effective?

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) believes that the evidence of masks or coverings preventing the spread of infection from one person to another is "marginal but positive".

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stressed that there is no evidence that wearing a mask, whether medical or not, by a healthy person in the community can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including coronavirus.

What are the downsides?

Concerns have been raised that wearing face coverings could give a false sense of security and mean that people are less stringent with other preventative measures, such as social distancing and hand hygiene.