Staff and customers will be forced to wear face coverings in shops from July 24 – but it is unclear whether car dealers will be included in the rules.
The government is set to announce today (July 14) that shoppers must wear masks inside and will a face a £100 fine if they don’t.
In a statement today Matt Hancock will announce the moves to make the wearing of face coverings – which must cover the nose and mouth – mandatory in shops, but it is not clear whether car dealers will be included.
Nona Bowkis, a solicitor for motor trade legal firm Lawgisitcs, thinks it is likely car dealers will have to follow the rules for shops.
She said: ‘Car dealers will need to re-visit their Covid risk assessments and ask their sales people to wear face shields, as used by bar staff and hairdressers, and ask their customers to wear face masks.
‘If face shields are to be worn, they should be swapped for a mask when driving to avoid injury from an airbag activating.’
The move follows a weekend of confusion over whether ministers intended to make face coverings compulsory after Boris Johnson said they were looking at ‘stricter’ rules.
The senior Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday he did not believe they should be mandatory and that it was better to ‘trust people’s common sense’.
However, during a visit to the London Ambulance Service yesterday, the prime minister offered the clearest signal he was going down the route of compulsion, saying the government was looking at the ‘tools of enforcement’.
Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement by Hancock, a No 10 spokesman said: ‘There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.
‘The prime minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24.’
Thoughts in the motor trade as to whether they will or won’t be included in the rules is mixed.
However, many dealerships have already purchased large quantities of PPE before the reopening rules were made clear.
Chorley Group sales and marketing director Adam Turner said his dealerships were well prepared for face covering rules for retail.
He told Car Dealer: ‘We set up face masks as a requirement in all dealerships in May – and we then dropped it to an optional use when the meter rule changed.
‘I wouldn’t envisage the need for it in dealerships due to the large circulation spaces possible in our facilities.
‘However, if it was mandatory it would be a very simple transition with clients all receiving disposable masks and team members all receiving reusable N95 masks – all of which we have in stock.’
Stuart Foulds, chairman and CEO of Trust Ford, added: ‘We have masks available for our colleagues and if it is a mandate then all colleagues will be required to wear them.’
Independent dealer Umesh Samani, owner of Specialist Cars and chairman for the Independent Motor Dealers Association (IMDA), has also prepared for masks being introduced – even though he believes it is unlikely to affect car dealers.
He said: ‘I don’t believe it will be mandatory in car sales showrooms as the environment can be more controlled than in shops.
‘Many dealers are working on appointment-only basis too. We have masks ready on site and if needed to use these all the time then we’re prepared.’
The move will bring England into line with Scotland, where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.
The government has been urging people to wear face coverings in confined spaces such as shops since early May and they have already been made compulsory on public transport in England since mid-June.
The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, with a maximum fine of £100 – reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.
Enforcement of the regulations will be the responsibility of the police.
First published: Monday, July 13 Updated: Tuesday, July 14, 07:43
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