AS CORONAVIRUS cases surged, Boris Johnson announced a raft of new tougher measures to drive infections down.
Among them were changes to face mask rules, including tougher fines for flouters, which come into force today.
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Face coverings were made compulsory in shops, supermarkets, takeaways and cinemas back on July 24.
It brought them in line with public transport, where masks have been mandatory since June 15.
But now wearing one in a taxi has been added to the list, as well as inside all indoor places of hospitality – except at a table to eat and drink.
Retail workers will also have to keep a face covering on at work.
Anyone who fails to adhere to the new rules will face a £100 fine.
These will double each time someone is found breaking the rules, up until a maximum of £3,200.
However, the exemptions on when you don’t need to wear one haven’t changed. These include…
1. Health conditions
If you have lung conditions such as asthma then you do not need to wear a face covering or mask.
For people who suffer from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or lung cancer, wearing masks can be particularly difficult.
The Government has said people with the “reasonable excuse” do not need to wear them in shops or on public transport.
According to the website Autism Eye, these rules around “reasonable excuses” also cover passengers with autism.
The Government states that if you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering then you are exempt from the rules.
If you need to take the mask off to take medication then you will not be fined.
2. Emergency responders
The Government states that police officers or support officers acting in the course of their duty are not required to wear a mask or covering.
Paramedics and fire officers are also exempt, as are border force officers acting in the course of their duties.
This is, however, a personal choice and all officers are able to wear coverings if they feel it is necessary.
Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear a face mask.
Many young people using public transport carry identification or railcards in order to prove they are entitled to a discounted journey.
The Government states that you do not have to keep your covering on if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other officials, for example to check your railcard or ID.
4. Travelling with someone who has a hearing impairment
If you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate then you don’t need to wear a mask.
This is due to the fact that it is vital the person you are travelling with is able to see your face.
The person who has the hearing impairment can still wear a mask.
If both people rely on lip reading to communicate then masks do not need to be worn.
5. If you’re at risk or a risk to others
If you are in a store or travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you then you will be not be fined for not using a mask.
You are also exempt if you could put others at risk when removing a mask or covering.
6. Private vehicles or accommodation
If you are allocated a cabin, berth or other similar accommodation while travelling then you can go mask free.
At any time when you are in that accommodation, either alone, or only with members of your own household or a linked household you will not be fined for not wearing a mask.
This is while if you are on board public transport but remain in your private vehicle, for example on a car ferry you are also not required to wear one.
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There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering.
- 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, for assessing health recommendations (for example by a pharmacist), or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
- To receive treatment or services, for example when getting a facial
- in order to take medication
- Delivering a sermon or prayer in a place or worship
- If you are getting married in a relevant place
- If you are aged 11 to 18 attending a faith school and having lessons in a place of worship as part of your core curriculum
- While undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact your ability to do so
- If you are an elite sports person, professional dancer or referee acting in the course of your employment
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