Wearing a face covering in retail shops and supermarkets will be made compulsory from the 24 July, it is set to be officially announced later today (14 July).
It is thought that those who are found to be flouting the new rules may be faced with a fine of up to £100 and will be enforced by the police.
Children under the age of 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt. Environment Secretary George Eustice also told BBC Breakfast this morning that retail staff themselves will be exempt from having to wear a face covering.
Currently government advice is that the public should wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible, but the new rules will bring the UK into line with Scotland and European countries such as France and Spain.
Responding to the new rules Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers have made the safety of staff and customers their top priority and we support measures aimed at protecting the health of the public.
“While retailers will play their part in communicating the new rules on face coverings, they must not be the ones enforcing these rules. With hundreds of incidents of violence and abuse directed at retail staff every day, we welcome the announcement that enforcement will be left to the authorities, rather than potentially putting hardworking retail colleagues in harm’s way.”
She added: “We look forward to further clarity over whether the wearing of face coverings will apply to shop staff. If so, there must be flexibility for colleagues who are in stores all day and can already benefit from other safety measures such as protective screens and 2m distancing.
“Retailers have already spent hundreds of millions installing perspex screens, implementing social distancing measures and providing additional cleaning in stores; we hope this announcement will make shoppers feel even more confident about returning to the high street.”