Phil Day By Superintendent Pharmacist Published:

In a further effort to help manage the spread of coronavirus, the UK Government is bringing in additional rules around the use of face coverings which will come into effect from Friday 24th July. Here we take a look at these new rules so you can prepare for the changes.

What rules are already in place regarding face masks?

These new rules will supplement the existing need to wear a face covering on public transport which came into effect from 15th June.

The current rules state that it’s mandatory for everybody travelling on public transport (including by bus, coach, train, tube, ferry, tram, or plane) to wear face coverings. In line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation, this change is being put in place for those times when socially distancing is more difficult. Some people, such as children under the age of 11, disabled people, and people with certain health conditions, will be exempt from the rule; and it does not apply to school transport, or taxis, although some firms may insist on face coverings. It’s best to check before travelling.

What rules are coming into effect from 24th July?

From 24th July, as well as on public transport, it will now be mandatory for people in England to wear face coverings  when visiting shops (e.g. garden centres, clothes shops and hairdressers) and supermarkets.

What’s the science behind the use of face coverings?

This decision was taken by the Government after consultation with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). Their findings are based on up-to-date external scientific evidence

The scientific rationale for wearing a face covering is that they help reduce the potential for transmission of droplets from the mouth and nose that could contain the virus. 

What if I don’t comply with the new rules?

If you don’t have a face covering or are unwilling to wear one, there are a couple of potential outcomes. Firstly, transport operators and retailers could ask you to wear a face mask or choose to deny service to you. The police can issue a £100 fine, reduced to £50 if it’s paid within 14 days.

Where can I get hold of a face covering?

A large number of face coverings will be made available for free at railway stations. You can also buy or make one. Our sister company Chemist Direct stocks a range of coronavirus essentials including face covering. The Government has also released a guide to making your own face covering.

How do I wear a face covering?

The correct use of a face covering can make all the difference for its effectiveness. The World Health Organization recommends:

  • Before putting it on, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the covering and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the covering.
  • Avoid touching the covering while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the covering with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use coverings.
  • To remove the covering: remove it from behind (do not touch the front); discard single use coverings immediately in a closed bin; clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

For more information

For the latest updates and government advice on the coronavirus click here or visit our coronavirus information hub here.