The subject of face coverings has been spoken about since the start of lockdown – and today (Jul 24) they became mandatory in retail spaces in England.
It followed on from Scotland where it’s been the law since July 10, but there have been conflicting messages from the government relating to the measures for England, with the full guidance only being published less than 12 hours before they came into force today.
But do dealers come under the guidelines? Here, we clear up the confusion for you in this guide.
What is the new guidance?
In England, from Friday, July 24, members of the public will need to wear face coverings – for example, a fabric covering, scarf, bandana or mask – that covers the nose and mouth in enclosed public and retail spaces. Anyone caught not sticking to the rules will be liable to a £100 fine from the police.
Are dealerships regarded as retail spaces?
Just like guidelines surrounding local lockdowns, dealers aren’t mentioned specifically as being a shop or a retail space, but it’s implied they are. Read on to find out why.
This is confusing, right?
Just a bit. Until the morning of July 23, the government was facing intense criticism for not being clear with the new guidance, specifically around sandwich shops.
Until Thursday July 23, it was thought that because people pop into a sandwich shop and don’t stay for any length of time they were exempt. But as of 9am on July 23, the government confirmed that sandwich shops were included as they’re a ‘retail space’ just like a car showroom. It finally issued the full guidance later the same day – less than 12 hours before it came into force.
So, do customers have to wear face coverings?
Yes, they do – unless they’re exempt. The wearing of face masks is designed to offer protection to the wearer and all those around them, so face coverings are now mandatory in dealership showrooms. Following on from earlier prohibitions, the new guidance explicitly states: ‘Face coverings will be mandatory in additional enclosed public spaces.’ So, as a showroom is an enclosed public space, it’s safe to assume that it falls under the new rules, therefore customers must wear a face covering.
Secondly, as rightly pointed out by one motor trade organisation this week, since many dealers have been arguing that they are retail premises for the purpose of gaining business rate relief and coronavirus grants, it’s very likely the government will use the same definition regarding face masks.
It was the general view within the motor trade that face coverings would become mandatory from Friday, July 24. Indeed, Vantage Motor Group put out a message on July 22 telling customers they should do so from July 24.
Do dealership staff have to wear face coverings?
Dealerships aren’t specifically mentioned by the Department of Health, but no, they don’t.
In the full guidance published late on July 23, the department said: ‘It is not compulsory [our emphasis] for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings although we strongly recommend that employers consider their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place.
‘Employees should continue to follow Covid-19 secure guidelines to reduce the proximity and duration of contact between employees. Businesses are already subject to legal obligations to protect their staff under existing employment law. This means taking appropriate steps to provide a safe working environment, which may include face coverings where appropriate, alongside other mitigation such as perspex screens to separate workers from customers.’
As dealers have been required to create safe working environments as a condition for reopening on June 1, nothing changes from July 24. But, as already mentioned, it would be advisable to have face coverings ready should any employee wish to use them or a customer requests a staff member to wear one. You may also want to have some available for customers to use if they don’t have one.
So face mask compulsory from today guys, Who wants a Wager less than 1wk other Supercar Dealer copy ? #TheDealMaker #Trendsetters #FamilyBrand #TheHartleyEstate
Style of our owen pic.twitter.com/yWbdQdrrcC
— Tom Hartley (@tomhartleycars) July 24, 2020
What if a customer refuses to wear a face covering?
It isn’t the responsibility of businesses or their employees to enforce the rules, it’s up to the police to do so. However, businesses can refuse entry to people who aren’t wearing a face covering and who aren’t exempt from the rules. The Metropolitan Police has said it will only enforce the rules ‘as a last resort’ – that is, if the customer won’t leave or if they become aggressive. The Trades Union Congress has also called on employers to demonstrate via risk assessments how they will protect staff from any kind of abuse by a customer.
Is there anywhere in the UK that customers don’t have to wear them?
Yes – and this doesn’t help with the confusion. While the wearing of face coverings in retail spaces became mandatory from Friday, July 24 in England, it’s been mandatory in Scotland since July 10. In Wales and Northern Ireland, face coverings are strongly advised but not mandatory, but Northern Ireland is waiting until August 20 to decide on making them mandatory.
Does every customer have to wear a face covering?
Simple answer, no. The exceptions are:
- Children under the age of 11
- Not being able 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 harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- 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
- To take medication
- If a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
Can customers still drink a hot drink in our reception area?
Yes they can, but they have to stick to the guidance which says ‘customers are expected to wear a face covering before entering any shop or supermarket and must keep this on until they leave. If a shop or supermarket has a café or seating area, then the customer can remove their face covering in this area only. They must put a face covering back on once they leave the seating area’.
Are all retail spaces affected?
Again, simple answer, no. Wearing a face covering will not be made mandatory in venues such as:
- Hairdressers and close-contact services
- Eat-in restaurants, cafes and pubs. Face coverings will be required in cafes or takeaway restaurants that do not provide table service, other than in designated seating areas
- Entertainment venues, including cinemas, concert halls and theatres
- Visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums)
- Gyms and leisure centres
- Dentists or opticians. But NHS guidance states that face coverings should be worn in hospitals
How do I wear a mask and where can I buy them?
Face coverings should cover the nose and mouth and fit securely against the side of the face. Washing your hands before you touch the mask and put it on is essential and the mask should remain on – it shouldn’t be dangling from one ear or pushed down on to the neck, for example. You should also wash your hands before taking the mask off and after you’ve removed it. Face masks can be ordered from a large number of high street names and online marketplaces.
This post was originally published at 12pm on July 23.
Updated: 7.42am, July 24
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