When can we stop wearing face masks?

FACE masks have been mandatory in shops, pubs and on public transport for a whole year under strict Covid-19 measures.

It is hoped that as lockdown lifts under Boris Johnson's roadmap to freedom, the rule could be ditched. Here is what we know about when this might be.

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When will we stop wearing face coverings?

The PM had previously said he wanted to tear up as many of the Covid restrictions as possible – including face masks – from June 21.

But he confirmed that the so-called 'Freedom Day' will be pushed back to July 19 instead, giving four more weeks to get more jabs into arms and protect the nation.

It means the wearing of face coverings continues to be compulsory on public transport and in indoor settings such as shops, and will be until at least July 5 when lockdown could be lifted early.

The Government is due to make a decision on June 28 about whether things can change then, but ministers are expected to announce that July 5 is too early to ease restrictions and they will remain in place until at least July 19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is hoped that by then that enough people will have received both doses of the Covid vaccine that face masks – and potentially social distancing and limits of gatherings – can be scrapped.

However, Public Health England's deputy director, Dr Susan Hopkins, said it may be compulsory to wear masks on public transport, where risk of transmission is higher, after July 19.

Why do we need to wear face coverings?

Covid-19 spreads through droplets that are released when a person coughs, sneezes, laughs, shouts or even speaks.

Face coverings should be worn to protect other people from coronavirus rather than the wearer.

They should cover your nose and mouth – the two confirmed main sources of transmission.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says that the use of face masks in public places may reduce the spread of infection in the community when they are worn by people who might not realise they are infected with the virus.

When should I wear a face covering?

It has been compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in the UK since June 15, 2020.

Their use is also mandatory in train stations, airports, ports, and bus and coach stations.

Wearing a face mask in shops became compulsory on July 24, 2020, and they now must also be worn when not seated, eating or drinking at hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Face coverings are also mandatory in England and Scotland in venues such as banks, places of worship, and libraries.

They must also be worn when visiting attractions like museums, galleries, aquariums and theme parks.

But school pupils and teachers no longer have to wear them in classrooms or communal areas.

Generally, the advice is that you should wear a face mask when it's difficult to socially distance and where you come into contact with people you don't normally meet.

Matt Hancock has suggested some people may choose to continue wearing masks after restrictions have been lifted.

What are the fines if you don't wear face coverings?

The police can take action if the public do not comply with face mask rules without a valid exemption.

Cops and Transport for London can issue fines of £200 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) for the first offence.

Repeat offenders will have their fines doubled at each offence – up to a maximum punishment of £6,400.

Transport operators can also refuse access to services if a passenger is not wearing a mask.

Children under the age of 11 and people with breathing problems, mental illness, and/or physical disabilities are exempt from wearing masks.

Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.

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