Coronavirus

Mandatory face coverings return in shops amid new variant fears

During the Coronavirus Downing Street briefing, prime minister Boris Johnson said that the new measures are currently "temporary and precautionary" in order to help fight the new strain of coronavirus

The government announced over the weekend the return of mandatory face coverings in all shops and on public transport after two cases of the new Omicron variant were found in England.

From 4am on Tuesday 30 November, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.

The update adds to the measures implemented earlier this week to prevent the spread of the new variant including travel restrictions and that all close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant will be required to isolate for 10 days regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

During the Coronavirus Downing Street briefing, prime minister Boris Johnson said that the new measures are currently “temporary and precautionary” in order to help fight the new strain of coronavirus.

It is thought the new measures will last for three weeks before they will be reviewed.

Shoppers who refuse to wear a face covering will be fined £200 for the first offence with each subsequent offence seeing the fine double up to a maximum of £6,400.

The news comes as the UK high street continued to see a boost in footfall and business thanks to Black Friday and the lead up to the festive season.

Last week it was revealed that footfall in UK retail destinations rose by 4.1% compared with the week before, something that analysts at Springboard called a “considerable improvement” from the rise of 1.5% in the previous week.

In high streets, the increase was even greater at 6.2%, nearly double the rise of 3.3% in shopping centres. The rise in footfall of 0.4% in retail parks was the most modest by far of the three destination types. However, it was still a marked improvement from the – 1.1% drop in the week before.

Footfall rose from the week before on every day last week apart from Sunday, and peaked on Wednesday and Friday when it rose by 7.7% and 9% respectively. In high streets on those two days footfall rose by even more by 10.4% and 13.1%.

Footfall currently remains more than double the level last year at 107.6% and 137.9% greater in high streets.

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