BORIS Johnson toughened up the rules and doubled the fine for failing to wear a face mask to £200 on September 22.
It is not mandatory for staff in pubs, restaurants and shops along with anyone getting a cab to wear one – but what are the exemptions?
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Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?
While masks are compulsory in most public settings, there are exceptions to those who need to wear them.
According to the official Government guidance, the following groups are not required to wear a face-covering while using public transport, in a shop, pub or restaurant:
- A child under the age of 11
- People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- An employee of the transport operator, or in any other indoor setting where appropriate when they are acting in the course of their employment
- Where a mask causes the wearer severe distress
- An emergency responder such as a police officer, paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
- Someone speaking to or helping anyone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- Someone acting to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themselves or others – including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity
There are also a series of factors which the Government describes as a “reasonable excuse”, which also means you don’t have to wear a mask:
- Public Health England do not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3
- To eat or drink if reasonably necessary
- In order to take medication
- If a police officer or other official asks you remove your face covering
- If you are getting married
- If you need to show your face for identification reasons
- If needed for a service like a haircut
- If you are delivering a sermon or prayer in a place or worship
- If you are undertaking exercise or an activity where it would negatively impact your ability to do so
Boris Johnson said on September 22: "We have reached a perilous turning point
"The latest figures (of new cases) have almost quadrupled.
"Transmission is high or rising exponentially. This is the moment where we must act."
Mr Johnson continued: "We will extend the requirement to wear face masks for all people who work in retail, taxis and all private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality.
"Except where seated to eat or drink."
Face masks are already compulsory in shops, supermarkets, using public transport and leisure venues including cinemas.
The new stricter rules have been brought in to try and stop the tide of new infections as a second wave of coronavirus threatens to grip hold of the nation.
For exemptions in different parts of the UK please refer to the specific government guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
What is a face mask exemption card and how can you get one?
Those who are exempted from wearing a face mask could be asked to show a "face-covering exemption" ID of some sort.
This is a personal choice, and is not necessary in law.
The government says that this could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
The travel exemption card is available to download for free on the TfL website, and can be used with other operators.
Alternatively you can download and print one for general use here.
Will travellers be refused boarding without a face mask?
Travellers who are not among the exempt categories will be refused boarding if they are not wearing a mask or told to get off.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "The evidence suggests that wearing a face masks offers some, limited protection.
"You can be refused travel if you don't comply and you could be fined.
"It’s a condition of travel. You cannot travel if you are not wearing a face covering."
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