Burnham-On-Sea shoppers will have to follow new Government guidance on wearing face coverings in shops as new rules come into force across England today (Friday).

Coverings will be mandatory in enclosed public spaces including supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks and post offices.

They must also be worn when buying takeaway food and drink, although they can be removed in seating areas.

Those who break the rules could face a fine of up to £100. Police will be able to “use force” to remove customers from shops if they do not wear face coverings, as well as prevent them from entering, guidance from the College of Policing says.

However, Police forces say they will only be enforcing the rules, including issuing the £100 fines, as a last resort.

There are exemptions to the new rules for children under 11, those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments that make it difficult for them to wear a face covering.

Public Health England has warned parents not to buy coverings for babies and young children because of the risk of choking or suffocation.

It is not compulsory for shop workers to wear face coverings but the government says it “strongly” recommended that employers consider their use where appropriate.

The government said it was the responsibility of individuals to wear one, although businesses are encouraged to take steps to encourage customers to follow the law, such as with signs.

Masks will not be mandatory in indoor venues which have other safety measures in place, including:

  • Eat-in restaurants
  • Pubs
  • Gyms and leisure centres
  • Cinemas, concert halls and theatres
  • Visitor attractions like museums

The government has been accused of mixed messaging over wearing masks in takeaways, with trade bodies and MPs saying there had been confusion about how the rules would apply.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “If you are in a premises where you are able to sit down and consume food or drink that you have bought, then you can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink on site.”

The criticism came after ministers and Boris Johnson’s official spokesman contradicted each other over how the rules would apply to takeaways and sandwich shops.

Unison official Jon Richards also said the UK “was late to the table on face coverings and now people don’t know what they should do”.

He said the rules on face coverings were in place for shops and public transport but not for some other enclosed spaces such as libraries, register offices and civic centres. “The public needs clarity to end the muddle,” he said.


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