Face masks in shops and supermarkets will be made mandatory in a fresh move to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Government has announced.
In a statement tomorrow, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will say anyone failing to comply with the order – which comes into force on July 24 – could face a fine of up to £100.
The move follows a weekend of confusion over whether ministers intended to make face coverings compulsory after Boris Johnson said they were looking at "stricter" rules.
The senior Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday he did not believe they should be mandatory and that it was better to "trust people's common sense".
However, during a visit to the London Ambulance Service on Monday, the Prime Minister offered the clearest signal he was going down the route of compulsion, saying the Government was looking at the "tools of enforcement".
Ahead of Tuesday's announcement by Mr Hancock, a No 10 spokesman said: "There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.
"The Prime Minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24."
The move will bring England into line with Scotland, where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.
The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, with a maximum fine of £100 – reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.
Enforcement of the regulations will be the responsibility of the police.
While shop workers will be asked to encourage compliance, retailers and businesses will not be expected to enforce them.
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As is the case on public transport, children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.
For Labour, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said ministers needed to explain why it had taken them so long to act.
He said: "The Government has been slow and muddled again over face coverings.
"Given the Government's own guidance issued on May 11 advised in favour of face masks, many will ask why yet again have ministers been slow in making a decision in this pandemic, and why it'll take another 11 days before these new guidelines to come into force."