As new mandatory requirements come in, Government has provided a summary of Face Covering requirements.  FIS has been advised that Site Operating Procedures do not need to change, but we urge members to review their requirements against our guidance and to consider how you will be informing and equipping your workforce.

Face coverings and the Law in England

In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • Public transport
  • Indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • Shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • Indoor shopping centres
  • Banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave.  It has been confirmed that this means face coverings are required for customers in showrooms and builders merchants.

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Individuals have been asked to assume that wearing a face covering is standard when visiting a hospital, GP, care home or other primary or community healthcare setting, but be prepared to accept that individual settings may have their own policies and require you to take other measures.

Where this law does not apply?

Indoor premises that sell goods or services but are not typically defined as a shop. Examples of this are restaurants with table service, bars, pubs, entertainment venues (such as cinemas or casinos), visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums), exercise and sports venues (such as gyms), and places that provide medical treatment (such as a dentist or optician).

Where a shop is within another premises which does not require a face covering (such as a museum or other visitor attraction) masks are required in the shop only. Check for signage upon entry and exit to know when this is the case.

So is it mandatory to wear face masks in offices and on construction sites?

No,  The logic presented here is that masks are less important in places where you regularly see the same people and that contact tracing is well placed to deal with outbreaks in workplaces and schools where interactions can be traced.  

When can you remove a face covering?

You can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink if reasonably necessary (see Section 3). This should be in an area that is specifically for the purposes of eating and drinking, such as a food court, unless no such area is available.

If a shop or supermarket has a café or seating area for you to eat and drink, then you can remove your face covering in this area only. You must put a face covering back on once you leave your seating area. If you are in a cafe or takeaway restaurant that does not provide table service, you must wear a face covering unless you are in a designated seated area.

Enforcement measures for failing to comply with this law?

Measures can be taken if people do not comply with this law without a valid exemption.

Shops, supermarkets and other premises where face coverings are required are encouraged to take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law and could refuse entry to anyone who does not have a valid exemption.

Transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service if they are not wearing a face covering.

If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days).

Further guidance is provided below

  1. What is a face covering?
  2. The reason for using face coverings
  3. How to wear a face covering
  4. Face coverings at work
  5. Buying and selling face coverings
  6. Making your own face covering
  7. Maintaining and disposing of face coverings

Face coverings and the Law in Northern Ireland

The use of face coverings on public transport is mandatory. 

It is strongly advised that you should think about using face coverings in particular circumstances – short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible.

Crucially, do not get a false sense of security about the level of protection provided by wearing a face covering. It is essential that everyone continues to:

  • Practise social distancing as much as humanly possible
  • Wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day
  • ‘Catch it, kill it, bin it’ when they sneeze or cough

That’s still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Further information on the use of face coverings and the exemptions that will apply is available here

Face coverings and the Law in Scotland

In enclosed spaces, where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household, you should wear a face covering.

People must by law wear a face covering in shops and on public transport and public transport premises such as railway and bus stations and airports. This applies to open-air railway platforms, but not to bus stops.

There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors from wearing a face covering unless in a crowded situation.

Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene are the most important and effective things we can all do to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

Further information on the use of face coverings and the exemptions that will apply in Scotland is available here

Face coverings and the Law in Wales

The most effective way to protect yourself and others from infection is to follow social distancing rules, avoid touching surfaces and your face, and wash your hands regularly.

Face coverings are not a substitute for these measures, but in some circumstances where it might be difficult to stay 2m away from others, we are advising the use of three-layer, non-medical face coverings.

Face coverings should be made up of three layers as set out by the World Health Organisation but do not need to be medical-grade face masks.

World Health Organisation’s latest technical advice.