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Are face coverings mandatory in shops?

Girl shopping with face mask on
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Updated 15th October 2020 - We recommend the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more up to date information.

Since lockdown restrictions were eased, non-essential shops in England have been allowed to reopen. More businesses – such as restaurants, cinemas and hotels – are allowed to open wherever it is safe to do so.

Currently, it's legal requirement in England to wear a face covering or mask while you're in a shop, or in any other enclosed public space. 

In England face coverings are also mandatory in:

  • Shops and supermarkets
  • Pubs and restaurants except when eating or drinking
  • Shopping centres and indoor markets
  • Auction houses
  • Public transport and transport hubs
  • Hospitals and GP surgeries
  • Post offices
  • Premises providing financial, legal and professional services such as banks and building societies
  • Vets
  • Visitor attractions such as museums, cinemas, bingo halls and theme parks
  • Libraries
  • Places of worship
  • Funeral service providers
  • Community centres, youth centres and social clubs
  • Public areas in hostels and hotels
  • Storage and distribution facilities

You can view a full list of when to wear a face mask and the government advises that people wear them whenever they are in a space where it is difficult to maintain safe social distancing i.e. you cannot keep two metres away from other people. 

For more guidance on staying safe, please read on, bearing in mind that this advice is designed for people living in England. If you live elsewhere in the UK or experiencing a local lockdown the guidance will be different, so make sure to check local guidance. 

Following government guidelines, residents of Wales will need to wear face coverings in shops and other indoor public places as of 14th September.

Please note: guidance is designed for people living in England but may differ depending on what alert level the area you live in falls under. If you are living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you should follow local guidance.

How to stay safe in shops

The government has issued guidance to shops in England on how to keep staff and customers safe now that lockdown has relaxed. You may find that shops you visit have put in place the following changes:

  • Limiting the number of customers who can enter at one time
  • Encouraging customers to shop on their own
  • Making hand sanitiser available to customers as they enter and exit
  • Arranging the shop floor-plan to control the flow of traffic
  • Making it mandatory to wear face coverings

These changes are designed to keep customers safe by reducing congestion and enabling adequate social distancing. If you visit a shop and it has not put these kinds of changes in place and – as a result – the space is crowded, you may choose to shop elsewhere.

In any case, while shopping it’s mandatory that you wear a face covering. You should also stay away from other shoppers, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands with water and soap thoroughly once you get home.

Where to get face masks or coverings

You can buy face masks online from LloydsPharmacy. We sell single-use disposable masks and reusable masks, which can be washed with your normal laundry. You can also make your own face covering using this guide produced by Public Health England.

You can use a face mask you have bought or made such as a bandana or scarf that can cover your nose and mouth, and tie around the back of your head. Just make sure that you can breathe comfortably while you are wearing it.

How to wear a face mask or covering 

Before you put on your mask you should wash your hands. While wearing it, avoid touching your face or the front of the mask.

When you get home you should take off the mask and wash your hands and any surfaces that the mask has touched.

If it is a reusable mask, it should be washed regularly using normal laundry detergent. Masks designed for single use should be thrown away once you have worn them.