Britons will have to wear facemasks in sandwich shops under new legislation set to be introduced tomorrow – but thousands of stores will not enforce the new rules.
No10 is set to perform its latest U-turn on facial coverings after confusion and mixed messages from ministers over whether customers will have to wear masks in takeaways.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on July 14 that wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets will be compulsory from Friday July 24, with anyone failing to comply facing a fine of up to £100.
But the new regulations will only be published on Thursday, less than 24 hours before they come into effect, and ministers were accused of not providing enough clarity last night.
The Government will try and clear up the confusion on food establishments and say that shoppers will not be able to buy food at the counter and then sit in the premises and eat it.
And takeaways with seating indoors will be treated the same as other shops and customers will have to wear a mask, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.
A Government source told the newspaper that only eateries with table service would not require masks.
They added: ‘You have to sit down straight away if you are going to eat in. If you can sit at a table you don’t need to wear a mask.’
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks with a paramedic as he visits headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust last week while wearing a mask
A woman wears a protective face mask in a McDonald’s after over 700 restaurants of the fast-food chain reopened with a dine-in service
A woman wearing a face mask walks amid shoppers on Oxford Street in London yesterday
Under the new regulations, people will need to have their nose and mouth covered or be liable for a fine of up to £100. However, those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
What are the rules on face masks?
The face mask rules vary across the UK.
In Scotland they are mandatory on public transport, and they became required in shops from last Friday.
In England, they have been required on public transport since last month. Anyone who fails to use one can be refused passage or hit with a £100 fine.
From July 24, face coverings will also be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England.
Outlets ‘will be expected to encourage compliance with the law’ and can refuse entry.
The government’s guidance says: ‘In both cases, if necessary, the police have the powers to enforce these measures, including through issuing a fine of £100.’
They will bring bring England into line with Scotland, where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.
However the rules on face masks came after days of confusion in Government last week about where and when they should be used, with Mr Hancock and the Prime Minister contradicting each other on the matter.
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 official 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.
‘It is mandatory … we are talking about supermarkets and other shops rather than food shops.’
Despite changes to the law, stores have said they will not enforce the rules themselves, as reported by the Daily Mirror.
Since the lockdown violence against retail workers have risen by an alarming 40 per cent, with shop bosses fearing that asking unruly shoppers to put on a mask could exacerbate the situation.
The Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: ‘We are helping retailers to communicate the rules around face coverings as widely as possible to customers, but have advised our members not to challenge customers who are unwilling to wear one.
An employee wearing PPE including a mask and visor serves a customer at the counter of a Greggs bakery in London in mid-June
Michael Gove finally fell into line by wearing a mask in Westminster last week – after being pictured going into Pret with a bare face
‘The safety of retailers and their colleagues is our number one priority and we are keen to avoid any potential flashpoints of abuse in stores.’
The ACS is issuing posters with the words ‘thank you for wearing a face mask’ and signs explaining why some people may be exempt. ‘
Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick has already said she hoped shoppers will instead be ‘shamed’ into wearing face masks in stores.
Speaking to LBC yesterday, Dame Cressida urged shoppers to take the initiative and wear a mask, but said if shop keepers are concerned and ‘have tried everything else’, her officers will try to assist.
‘Calling the police should be a last resort for dealing with a mask issue. But of course the law is the law,’ she said.
‘My hope is that the vast majority of people will comply, and that people who are not complying will be shamed into complying or shamed to leave the store by the store keepers or by other members of the public.
‘If somebody is concerned about what is going on in their store, yes, of course they should call the police and we will try to assist.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak posted a picture of himself last week wearing a covering while getting a takeaway from Pret
British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: ‘While retailers will play their part in communicating the new rules on face coverings, they must not be the ones enforcing them.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Munira Wilson said that with just a day to go to the new rules being enforced, the Government was in a mess.
Face shields worn by hairdressers and salon workers DON’T protect against Covid-19 but masks DO, Swiss health officials say
Face shields worn by hairdressers are not protective against Covid-19 — but masks are, health chiefs in Switzerland have claimed.
Swiss officials investigated an outbreak of ‘several’ coronavirus cases that occurred at a hotel in a village in the Alps — even though employers took precautions.
Experts revealed only those who wore plastic visors were infected. But no-one who wore a mask, either alone or in addition to a face shield, caught the coronavirus, according to the study.
Clear visors are recommended by the UK Government for hairdressers, barbers, nail technicians and tattooists as a barrier between them and the customer.
But it claims no other protection needs to be worn by either the worker or customer in order to protect against the coronavirus.
Experts say there is a lack of strong scientific evidence to support face shields and virus-laden droplets may still be able to enter the mouth.
She said: ‘People need a Government that can offer genuine reassurances and steer the country to safety.
‘After all, clear communication is critical in a public health crisis. Instead, this confusion on guidance shows Ministers simply could not organise a bun fight in a bakery.
‘All this stinks of ministers making it up as they go along instead of listening to the experts.
‘The Government must urgently provide the clarity businesses need to operate and people need to feel safe.’
Passengers have been required to wear face coverings on public transport in England since last month.
Former head of the civil service Lord O’Donnell told peers on Wednesday the Government needed to improve its communications.
Giving evidence to the Lords Public Services Committee, he said: ‘If anyone knows what the clear message on masks is, please tell me.’
Last week ministers caused chaos with a serious of contradictory statements and actions regarding face coverings.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, for example, were pictured wearing masks at a Pret a Manger in Westminster – while Michael Gove was photographed in the sandwich shop without one.
Then last Wednesday morning Matt Hancock announced coverings would be compulsory in sandwich shops such as Pret a Manger.
The response sparked anger from Mayor of London Mr Khan, who tweeted: ‘This is frankly ridiculous. The virus doesn’t know if you’re in a take-away or a supermarket.
‘The Government is risking the health of the public to cover the back of a Cabinet Minister. Please wear a face covering in all shops and takeaways.’
Mr Gove finally fell into line by wearing an NHS-branded face covering in Whitehall – having sparked a furore by publicly making clear he did not think they should be required by law, and being spotted in a sandwich shop without one.
Later on Wednesday the Health Secretary was contradicted by Downing Street when the Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted this was not the case.
It was then contradicted by Department of Health officials who confirmed masks would be mandatory from July 24 in line with all other shops.
The next day, Business Secretary Alok Sharma told Sky News masks would not be necessary when buying food to takeaway. ‘It won’t be compulsory but we would certainly encourage it,’ he said. Masks will be required in all shops across England from tomorrow.
UK announces 79 more coronavirus deaths as daily number of victims continues to drop — but official figures show outbreak may be growing with average new cases 10% higher than last week
by Sam Blanchard for MailOnline
Another 79 people have died of Covid-19 in Britain as official figures released today reveal the daily number of victims is still dropping —but cases are still rising in a sign the outbreak is growing.
Department of Health statistics show 64 Britons are succumbing to the illness each day, on average. By contrast, the rate last Wednesday was 75.
Today marked the seventh day in a row that no deaths have been recorded in Scotland and only one death has been counted in the past fortnight, showing the country is on the way to being free of coronavirus.
The number of cases, however, seems to be rising. A further 560 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus, up from 440 yesterday, and the seven-day average has been risen 9.2 per cent in the last week.
There are now an average 638 people diagnosed each day, up from 584 seven days ago and from 546 a week before that on July 8.
The increasing average may be a sign the infection has started spreading again, confirming fears of top scientists that ‘Super Saturday’ would trigger a surge in cases — or it could be a result of more targeted testing.
As Britain’s Covid-19 outbreak continues to fade away, ministers today announced care homes in England will be allowed to reopen for visits for the first time.
Homes now have the green light to work with local authorities and set up visiting systems that allow residents to have one ‘constant visitor’ each who will be able to pop in regularly provided they book in advance and wear face coverings.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I know how painful it has been for those in care homes not being able to receive visits from their loved ones throughout this period.’
Yesterday’s data comes as:
- Care homes in England are now allowed to reopen to visitors for their residents, as long as they keep social distancing and PPE rules in place’;
- An outbreak in Spain is worsening so much that officials may be forced to rethink the rules allowing Brits to holiday there without quarantining on return;
- Public health experts say hand-shakes could be a thing of the past because of long-term social distancing rules;
- A Government SAGE adviser has claimed that there is no proof of children passing Covid-19 to their teachers anywhere in the world;
- A top epidemiologist in Sweden said it is likely that anyone who catches coronavirus will not get it again within six months;
- The UK Government is considering ‘air bridges’ to specific regions which have low levels of coronavirus even when a country as a whole has not been deemed safe;
- Swiss health officials say the face shields worn by hairdressers and salon staff do not prevent Covid-19 and are no replacement for masks.
Department of Health figures released this afternoon showed 140,000 tests were carried out or posted the day before. The number includes antibody tests for frontline NHS and care workers.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE REALLY DIED OF THE CORONAVIRUS IN THE UK?
Department of Health: 45,501
Department of Health’s latest death count for all settings (as of 9am, July 22) stands at 45,501.
The daily data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.
It also only takes into account patients who tested positive for the virus, as opposed to deaths suspected to be down to the coronavirus.
National statistical bodies: 56,113
Data compiled by the statistical bodies of each of the home nations show 56,113 people died of either confirmed or suspected Covid-19 across the UK by the end of May.
The Office for National Statistics yesterday confirmed that 51,096 people in England and Wales died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 by July 10.
The number of coronavirus deaths was 824 by the same day in Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
National Records Scotland — which collects statistics north of the border — said 4,193 people had died across the country by July 19.
Their tallies are always 10 days behind the Department of Health (DH) because they wait until as many fatalities as possible for each date have been counted, to avoid having to revise their statistics.
Excess deaths: 65,249
The total number of excess deaths has now passed 65,000.
Excess deaths are considered to be an accurate measure of the number of people killed by the pandemic because they include a broader spectrum of victims.
As well as including people who may have died with Covid-19 without ever being tested, the data also shows how many more people died because their medical treatment was postponed, for example, or who didn’t or couldn’t get to hospital when they were seriously ill.
Data from England and Wales shows there has been an extra 59,324 deaths between March 15 and June 12, as well as 4,924 in Scotland between March 10 and June 22 and 1,001 in Northern Ireland between March 28 and June 26.
But bosses again refused to say how many people were tested, meaning the exact number of Brits who have been swabbed for the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been a mystery for a month — since May 22.
Health chiefs also reported 560 more people had tested positive for Covid-19. Government data shows the official size of the UK’s outbreak now stands at 296,377 cases.
But the actual size of the outbreak, which began to spiral out of control in March, is estimated to be in the millions, based on antibody testing data.
It means the rolling average of daily cases has risen to 638 — 9 per cent higher than the mean of 584 recorded last Wednesday.
The daily death data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.
The data does not always match updates provided by the home nations. Department of Health officials work off a different time cut-off, meaning daily updates from Scotland as well as Northern Ireland are always out of sync.
And the count announced by NHS England every afternoon — which only takes into account deaths in hospitals — does not match up with the DH figures because they work off a different recording system.
For instance, some deaths announced by NHS England bosses will have already been counted by the Department of Health, which records fatalities ‘as soon as they are available’.
The Department of Health has temporarily paused the count on its website after discovering that Public Health England was counting the deaths of everyone who has ever had coronavirus, regardless of their real cause.
Matt Hancock last week ordered a review of how the data is collected because scientists pointed out the daily death tolls were too high because people who were dying of other causes were being included.
Dr Yoon Loke, a pharmacologist at the University of East Anglia, discovered the error and told MailOnline: ‘Because of this major flaw in the statistics, and the fact that tens of thousands of older people are being monitored, there is going to be a very very long tail of daily deaths.
‘The death toll will go down exceedingly slowly. It’s certainly not going to get to zero for months to come yet, because older people who have recovered from Covid-19 will unfortunately still succumb to other illnesses.’
Government figures show the rolling seven-day average of daily deaths now stands at 64 — a 15 per cent drop on the mean of 75 this time last week.
NHS England today registered 10 deaths of patients who tested positive for the infection in hospitals across the country. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales announced no new victims.
It comes after data from Office for National Statistics yesterday showed that nearly three times as many people are now dying from the flu and pneumonia than coronavirus in England and Wales.
Covid-19 fatalities have dropped to the lowest levels since well before lockdown, with 283 people succumbing to the life-threatening infection in the week ending July 10.
By contrast, 418 coronavirus deaths were recorded in England and Wales in the seven-day spell before that, and more than 8,000 were registered during the worst week of the crisis in April.
Yesterday’s was the lowest figure since the week ending March 13, 10 days before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the draconian measures to curb the spread of the virus.
For comparison, 917 influenza and pneumonia deaths were registered in the same week. The number of Covid-19 deaths registered — which is always slightly higher than how many occurred — in the same time-frame was 366.
Most recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also show the number of fatalities has fallen in all regions of England and Wales as the virus continues to peter out in the UK.
And deaths of any cause are now the lowest they have been all year, with promising statistics showing the number of fatalities has been below average for the past four weeks in a row.
ONS experts explained that Covid-19 likely sped up the deaths of people who would have died of other causes, meaning the year’s fatalities have been front-loaded. As a result, fewer people are now dying of causes such as heart disease and dementia because they have already succumbed to the coronavirus.
Separate data last week showed infection levels in the UK have stabilised and scientists suggest the death rate may fall because of warmer weather. There are growing concerns, however, that the virus could return and cause more death and disease in the winter when people are more susceptible.
The Government today announced that people living in care homes in England will be allowed family visits again for the first time since lockdown started in March – but residents will be limited to just one visitor each.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given care homes the green light to start arranging visits as long as social distancing and protective equipment rules are followed.
But each resident will only be allowed a single nominated visitor who can visit regularly as long as they book in advance and wear a mask and extra PPE if required.
The much-anticipated move brings England in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have been allowing visits in care homes for weeks.
Local councils and public health officials in England will decide on a case-by-case basis which homes will be able to reopen, depending on levels of coronavirus in the area.
Mr Hancock said: ‘I know how painful it has been for those in care homes not being able to receive visits from their loved ones throughout this period.
‘We are now able to carefully and safely allow visits to care homes, which will be based on local knowledge and circumstances for each care home.
‘It is really important that we don’t undo all of the hard work of care homes over the last few months while ensuring families and friends can be safely reunited so we have put in place guidance that protects everyone.’