Alongside tighter controls on international travel, following the discovery of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, from 4:00am today (30th November 2021) the government has reintroduced the compulsory wearing of face coverings in a number of settings in England.
Areas where face coverings must now be worn include:
- Shops and enclosed shopping centres.
- Banks, building societies, credit unions, Post Offices and similar settings
- Vehicles being used for driving tests and driving lessons, and
- Public transport including indoor “transport hubs” e.g. bus and rail stations.
For clarification “shop” is defined in the regulations as “any building, room or other indoor establishment which is open to the public in whole or in part and is used wholly or mainly for the purposes of retail sale or hire of goods or services”.
Relevant premises are also required to display notices or provide information to advise persons where face coverings must be worn.
A number of places are specifically excluded from the requirement including hospitality venues such as cafés, restaurants, bars, public houses etc, photography studios and premises providing certain medial services (but not registered pharmacies).
As with previous requirements there are exemptions where a person has a reasonable excuse for not wearing a face covering e.g. for medical reasons, communication, in an emergency etc.
The full regulations can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2021/1340/contents/made
Face coverings remained compulsory in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales over recent months and this has not changed.