Confused about Face Mask Regulations in England? Here’s What You Need to Know

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the use of face masks has become a hot topic worldwide. In England, the situation is no different. The government’s stance on face mask regulations has been a source of confusion for many, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggesting that wearing face masks in shops will be mandatory, while Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove suggests otherwise. This article aims to clarify the current face mask regulations in England and provide you with the information you need to stay safe and compliant.

Current Face Mask Regulations in England

As of July 24, 2020, it is mandatory to wear a face covering in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, and post offices in England. This is in addition to the existing rule that requires face coverings on public transport. Those who fail to comply with these rules could face a fine of up to £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are certain exceptions to the face mask rule. Children under the age of 11 and those with certain disabilities or health conditions are exempt. You are also allowed to remove your mask if you need to for identification purposes, such as when buying age-restricted items.

What Constitutes a Face Covering?

A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.

Why the Confusion?

The confusion arose when Boris Johnson and Michael Gove made seemingly contradictory statements about the mandatory use of face masks. While Johnson suggested that face masks would be required in shops, Gove said that it was “basic good manners” to wear a mask but did not believe it should be mandatory. The government later clarified that face masks would indeed be mandatory in shops and other specified indoor settings.


While the mixed messages from the government may have caused some confusion, the current regulations are clear: face masks are mandatory in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices, and on public transport in England. By following these rules, we can all help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect each other.