Face mask rules as reports they could become compulsory in shops

Face masks could soon be the norm in Merseyside shops if the government tightens rules as anticipated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce that face masks will become compulsory in shops and confined spaces, The Mirror reports.

The government is yet to confirm this, but Mr Johnson said on Friday that "stricter" new rules would be needed given the lack of tradition of wearing masks in the UK.

The PM also appeared in public wearing a mask for the first time on Friday, after criticisms that he and his top ministers were not wearing masks when in close contact with others.

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Currently, face-coverings are only compulsory on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient in England.

But face-coverings have already become mandatory in shops in Scotland from Friday, July 10, after non-essential shops opened on June 29.

We take a look at what it could mean for people in Merseyside.

What counts as a face covering?

A face covering has been defined as any covering of the mouth and nose that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe.

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Religious face-coverings that cover the mouth and the nose also count as face coverings for these purposes.

The Scottish Government advise that when applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash/sanitise your hands first and avoid touching your face.

After each use, you must wash the face-covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of it safely.

Where are face masks compulsory?

In Scotland, people must – by law – wear a face covering in retail environments and on public transport and public transport premises, such as airports, train and bus stations.

In England, you must wear face coverings on trains and in hospitals.

If face coverings are made compulsory in England, there may be some exceptions – in Scotland, they are not required in cafes, restaurants or pubs, or banks and building societies.

Face coverings are more likely to be compulsory indoors, as the virus is believed to spread slower outside.

Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?

In Scotland, those not required to wear a face covering in shops include children under the age of five, police constables or other key workers, and shop workers who can socially distance. You also don't need to wear a face mask if you have a health condition that would worsen because of it, or you are communicating with someone who relies on lip reading.

In England, the guidance is likely to follow that which applies to wearing face coverings on trains. The current exemptions include children under the age of 11, certain key workers, and those who have relevant health conditions.

Where can I buy a face covering?

You can buy face masks from high street retailers now, from Urban Outfitters to ASOS, or from independent tailors.

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You can also buy themed ones, with Liverpool FC and Everton FC both offering branded covers.

You can also make your own face covering – the government has instructions here.