Coronavirus National & International

Coronavirus: Ministers urged to end ‘confusion’ about face coverings

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The government has been accused of mixed messaging over where people will have to wear face coverings when new rules come into force, according to BBC.

They will be compulsory in shops and other enclosed public spaces in England from Friday.

Trade bodies and opposition MPs said confusion remained over takeaways.

Minister Brandon Lewis said face coverings would be compulsory when purchasing takeaway food and drink, but not if you are eating at the premises.

“If you are going into a takeaway and you are eating in somewhere that’s got a takeaway, then that is like hospitality. You are eating – it’s not practical to wear a face mask, we recognise that,” the Northern Ireland Secretary said.

“But if you are going in to buy a product and leaving again, then you are treating it like a shop, and you should be wearing a face mask.”

However, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said this opposed what the industry had formerly been told by the government and it was “very late in the day” for this to be confirmed.

“It’s really unhelpful to have that confusion because the single biggest thing we need now is to rebuild consumer confidence and that needs clear, unambiguous messaging,” she told BBC Breakfast.

The criticism came after Mr Hancock and Boris Johnson’s official spokesman contradicted each other over the rules on takeaways and sandwich shops.

The health secretary said last week: “You do need to wear a face mask in Pret because Pret is a shop. If there’s table service, it is not necessary to have a mask. But in any shop, you do need a mask. So, if you’re going up to the counter in Pret to buy takeaway that is a shop.”

But the prime minister’s spokesman later said: “We will be publishing the full guidance shortly, but my understanding is that it wouldn’t be mandatory if you went in, for example, to a sandwich shop in order to get a takeaway to wear a face covering.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on 14 July that wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets would be compulsory from Friday, 24 July.

If anyone fails to comply, they will face a fine of up to £100.

Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities and conditions will be exempt, while ministers have also said the rules won’t apply to shop workers.

However, the full guidance will only be published on Thursday, less than 24 hours before they come into force.

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