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Mask Law Petition - Government Response


The Government has responded to the petition – “Repeal the decision to implement compulsory face coverings in English shops”.


The response is as follows:


People must play their part to reduce the spread of the virus. Wearing a face covering helps this, giving people the confidence to return to shops safely, and better protects those who work in retail.


The government is telling the public to play their part and wear face coverings in order to help fight the spread of the virus, enabling further easing of national restrictions.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus. There is evidence to suggest that, when used correctly, face coverings may reduce the likelihood of someone with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic. Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.


Since 11 May, the Government has been advising people to wear face coverings in enclosed indoor spaces, where they cannot easily social distance, and where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet.


The wearing of face coverings has been required on public transport since 15 June.


In recent weeks, some lockdown restrictions have been eased and the retail sector has reopened. As footfall increases, we want to give people more confidence to shop safely, and enhance protections for those who work in shops. The British Retail Consortium has said that together with other social distancing measures, face coverings can make shoppers feel even more confident about returning to the high street.


The Government has published guidance online which sets out when the public need to wear one and how they can make their own. There are exemptions for those who are unable to wear a face covering due to age, health, disability, and other reasons. There has been an ongoing assessment as to the impacts of the Government’s policy, including on groups with protected characteristics, that has informed decision making.


The Government is running a proactive communications campaign on face coverings to alert the public where they are now required to wear a face covering, who is exempt from wearing one, and how to wear one correctly. We are actively engaging with stakeholders including disability charities to communicate new guidance to their members as well as highlighting this message to the general public on social media and via broadcasting opportunities.


On 31 July the Prime Minister announced that the face covering regulations will be extended to cover further indoor settings such as places of worship from 8 August.


We will keep advice on the use of face coverings under review, in line with the latest scientific evidence.


Department of Health and Social Care



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