People will have to wear face coverings when popping in to get food or drink from sandwich shops, ministers announced today in another U-turn.
Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis said people going into Pret a Manger or other coffee shops would have to don a face mask if they are getting a take-out.
This stance contradicted Business Secretary Alok Sharma who last week said wearing a face mask would be encouraged but not compulsory in such circumstances.
Mr Sharma had himself contradicted Health Secretary Matt Hancock who just a day earlier had said that face coverings would be mandatory when going into a cafe or other takeaway to grab a coffee or food.
Downing Street then suggested it would not be compulsory in order to get a take-out.
The policy had been further confused by Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who while opposing making masks compulsory in takeaway outlets, stated that it was “basic good manners to wear a face mask if you are in a shop”, but then was pictured in a Pret near Parliament without one.
Mr Hancock, though, appears to have won a Whitehall argument as official regulations were being published just a day ahead of the new law on the compulsory wearing of face masks in shops coming into force tomorrow.
From tomorrow - when do I wear a mask in England? 😷
Shopping - ✅
At a bank - ✅
Eating inside - ❌
Picking up a takeaway - ✅
On #BBCBreakfast Brandon Lewis MP talks through some of the face covering guidance due to be published later.
More here: https://t.co/VRW5dFgUcq pic.twitter.com/VAvuE606WH
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast)
Mr Lewis told BBC Breakfast: “What changes from tomorrow is we are saying people from tomorrow, you should wear face masks if you are in shops or supermarkets.
"If you are going into a takeaway, and you are eating in somewhere that has got a takeaway, then that is like hospitality, you are eating, it’s not practical to wear a face mask, we recognise that.
"But if you’re going in to buy a product and leaving again, then you are treating it like a shop, and you should be wearing a face mask.”
The regulations were drawn up by the Department of Health and Social Care as it is a public health issue.
People who flout the new law will risk a £100 fine, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Wearing a face mask on public transport is already mandatory, although many people are not doing so.
After the confusion over sandwich shops and face masks, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Munira Wilson said: “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.”