Face coverings: changes now in force from 8 August 2020

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On 24 July, new law relating to face coverings came into force but this has changed again – with effect from 8 August 2020. Places previously exempt from the wearing of face coverings are now no longer exempt and new indoor places where face coverings must be worn have been added.

Confused about the current COVID-19 laws on quarantine, social distancing, ‘bubbles’ and international travel? Do not worry – it is understandable, as they are changing on a weekly basis.

So, it can be hard to keep up. And, just to make things more complicated, there are different rules for different parts of the UK. In addition, Guidance is issued containing advice (‘you shouldn’t’) that may or may not be the actual law (‘you mustn’t’) that is in force.

The basic law relating to face coverings is – and remains – that ‘No person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face-covering’. ‘Relevant places’ is simply a list of places where, as a matter of law, you must wear a face covering, as well as any transport hub.

Now – unless an exemption or ‘reasonable excuse’ applies – face coverings by law have also to be worn in more indoor premises: premises providing professional, legal or financial services (i.e. your solicitor, accountant etc.); nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers; tattoo and piercing parlours; massage parlours; storage and distribution centres; auction houses; spas; funeral directors and veterinary practices. (These had been exempt.)

Further places added into the list of “relevant places” where face coverings must be worn including indoor places of worship; crematoria and burial ground chapels; museums; galleries, cinemas, indoor zoos, indoor parts of tourist sites, bingo halls, public libraries and reading rooms; public spaces in hotels/hostels (such as lobby areas) and community centres.

The previous list of relevant places includes shops including supermarkets and enclosed shopping centres, banks and post offices but not restaurants providing table service to customers, bars or pubs, or areas of shops and shopping centres which are provided for the consumption of food and drink, such as seating areas provided in coffee shops, supermarket cafes, and food court areas in shopping centres.

Some premises, originally exempted, remain exempt:

  • premises (other than registered pharmacies) providing wholly or mainly medical or dental services, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractic, osteopathic, optometry or other medical services including mental health
  • indoor fitness studios, gyms, dance studios, leisure centres, indoor swimming pools, water parks funfairs, theme parks or other premises for indoor sports, leisure or adventure activities
  • photography studios.


The Face Coverings Regulations include exemptions for:

  • any child who is under the age of 11
  • a person responsible for a relevant place or an employee of that person acting in the course of their employment (i.e. those working in shops, supermarkets and other relevant places ) or any other person providing services in the relevant place under arrangements made with the person responsible for a relevant place.

Reasonable excuse

A person may have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering and the Regulations include a list (there may be more). These are where: a person cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability or without severe distress; to engage in lip-reading; to avoid harms/injury to self or others; when escaping harm; to eat/drink, where reasonably necessary; to take medication; a person’s identity needs to be verified; on request at a pharmacy or for law enforcement.


A person can be denied entry to a place where masks must be worn and be directed to wear a face-covering or to leave. An individual in charge of a child who is not complying with the face-covering requirement can also be directed to ensure they comply. NB these measures can only be enforced by a constable or a police community support officer or a TfL officer in relation to any transport hub. Only a constable has the power to remove a person, using reasonable force if necessary.

Offence and penalties

A person who contravenes the requirement to wear a face-covering obstructs those allowed to enforce the law or contravenes direction (e.g. to leave) commits an offence, punishable on summary conviction (i.e. in the Magistrates) by a fine. A fixed penalty can be issued – the normal likely disposal – in the sum of £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

We Can Help You

We will continue to update you about developments as they arise.

Please contact Tim Ridyard on 07484 924834 or email tim.ridyard@ashtonslegal.co.uk for individual advice for your business.

Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any regulatory or road transport matters, please get in touch with our specialist Regulatory and Road Transport team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.

This information is correct at 11.00am on 10 August 2020.

Source: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020


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