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Wear a face covering - if you can - as new law comes into force

Let's be York; safe, welcoming, considerate

Published Thursday, 23 July 2020

From Friday 24 July it is mandatory to wear face coverings in shops and other indoor spaces - and City of York Council is encouraging those who can to wear one when out and about to keep others safe.

There is growing evidence that face coverings help stop the spread of the virus so please wear one if you can. From Friday, those who don’t wear a face covering can be fined £100.

The council is also encouraging residents to be mindful that not everyone will be able to wear one, especially as some medical conditions will not be visible.

Exemptions include:

  • young children under the age of 11
  • Those unable to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • to eat or drink, but only if you need to
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:

  • If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
  • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

Cllr Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:

“Face coverings, alongside regular hand washing, social distancing and those who have symptoms staying home and getting tested remain the best defense we have against the virus.

“Our residents have been fantastic so far in following government advice and looking after each other, and our businesses are working extremely hard to provide a safe experience for their customers.

“It is important this continues for us to keep the infection rate low. We want people to enjoy our city and support our local businesses safely, wearing a face covering where possible to protect each other.

“There are some though who are unable to wear a face covering due to conditions which may have which we all need to be mindful and considerate of. 

“We appreciate this has caused some uncertainty for those who are exempt. If you have a medical condition that means you are unable to wear a face covering, you do not need a letter from your healthcare professional to prove this.  You will still be able to enter shops and you will not be fined for not wearing one.”

North Yorkshire Police have advised that they will only use their powers to fine as a last resort, and will continue to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules.

Superintendent Charlotte Bloxham, silver commander for the response to Covid-19, said:

“As with the policing of the previous coronavirus regulations, we know the vast majority of people will do as the Government have asked, as they know how important it is to protect themselves, their families and other people.

“Since the new regulations were announced, we have been liaising with local retailers to explain how we will police these new regulations.

“Demand on our service is almost back to normal pre-coronavirus levels, so we have to prioritise where we deploy our officers.

“We will take a sensible approach to enforcement and hope people understand that we cannot attend every incident. To that end, please bear this in mind before reporting anyone for not wearing a face-covering.

“To help keep our phone lines free for urgent policing matters, we urge anyone who wishes to report a breach of the regulations, to do so via our online coronavirus reporting form which can be found on our website. Please only call if a situation escalates and your safety is threatened.

“Once again, we thank the people of York and North Yorkshire who have shown great support, understanding and compliance with the guidance and regulations so far. It is because of your sacrifices that we are now in a position where we can enjoy more freedom. Please stay safe, and help to limit the spread.”

Retailers can refuse entry to anyone who is not wearing a face covering.

There are some exemptions to this latest regulation, a full list can be found on the gov.uk website here

Tips for wearing a face covering:

  • A face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably.
  • A cloth face covering is preferable as these are more environmentally friendly as they can be washed between uses.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
  • Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.