Part 1 of Are you covering up can be read here
Where this law does not apply
Face coverings are required to be worn in any shops, including food shops and supermarkets, but are not required in hospitality settings, including restaurants with table service, bars, and pubs. They are also not required in entertainment venues (such as cinemas or casinos), visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums), exercise and sports venues (such as gyms).
Where a shop is within another premises which does not require a face covering (such as a museum or other visitor attraction) they are required in the shop only. Check for signage upon entry and exit to know when this is the case.
When you can remove a face covering
You can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink if reasonably necessary (see Section 3). This should be in an area that is specifically for the purposes of eating and drinking, such as a food court.
If a shop or supermarket has a café or seating area for you to eat and drink, then you can remove your face covering in this area only. You must put a face covering back on once you leave your seating area.
The government’s guidance for keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services clearly advises that designated indoor seating areas for customers to eat or drink should at this time only be open for table service, where possible, alongside additional infection control measures.
Enforcement measures for failing to comply with this law
Measures can be taken if people do not comply with this law without a valid exemption.
Shops, supermarkets and other premises where face coverings are required are encouraged to take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law and could refuse entry to anyone who does not have a valid exemption.
Transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service if they are not wearing a face covering.
If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days).
When you do not need to wear a face covering
In settings where face coverings are required in England, there are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, where people are not expected to wear face coverings. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.
It is not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face coverings (see section 6), although employers may consider their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place. Employers should continue to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines to reduce the proximity and duration of contact between employees.
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):
- young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
- in order to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
- if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
- if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, the purpose of assessing health recommendations, such as a pharmacist, or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
- if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.
Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this. Written evidence includes exemption cards.
Please note that making it clear you are exempt (as per creating an exemption badge or sign, is not necessary in law).
This is a personal choice, but in my opinion, wearing something like this is like a sign that you are different and might in itself be stressful.
Better to not wear anything (but there’s nothing stopping you having a badge in your pocket or indeed something like a medical prescription, if it gives more assurance.) Remember you are unlikely to need anything on the evidence in so far.
I wish you luck…
In the meantime, the new regulations are being studied to assess how to legally challenge them.
Photo by M.P.N.texan