“There is growing evidence that wearing a face cover in an enclosed space helps protect people and those around them from coronaviruses,” said a spokesman for Downing Street.
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that people should wear face covers in stores and we will make this compulsory from July 24. ”
The new measures come as a report from the Academy of Medical Sciences has warned that the UK must now prepare for a potential new wave of winter coronavirus infections more severe than the first, with a “worse reasonable scenario” 119,900 Covid- hospital-related deaths between September 2020 and June 2021.
The United Kingdom is one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus, with nearly 45,000 deaths, placing it third behind Brazil and the United States.
Scientists have declared that a combination of the possibility of an influenza epidemic, a backlog of patients in need of treatment and the disruption already created in the healthcare system by Covid-19 poses a “serious health risk UK “.
Modeling suggested that there would be a peak in hospital admissions and deaths in January and February 2021 similar or worse than the first wave of the virus this spring, which would coincide with a spike in demand for health services. UK health.
“This is not a prediction, but it is a possibility,” said Professor Stephen Holgate, respiratory specialist at the Southampton University NHS Foundation Trust, who chaired the report, in a statement.
He said modeling suggested that deaths could be higher with a new wave of Covid-19 this winter, “but that the risk of that happening could be reduced if we act immediately.”
Minimizing community transmission, reducing transmission in hospitals and nursing homes, increasing testing capacity and getting a flu shot were all necessary to avoid such a scenario, the report said.
Last week, the director of the British National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, said that the United Kingdom was “far behind” many countries in terms of wearing masks. Scotland, Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece have already made it compulsory to wear a face cover in stores.
Ramakrishnan added that not wearing a mask should be considered anti-social like drinking and driving and said there is “a growing body of evidence that wearing a mask will help protect others – and might even protect you. ”
Earlier Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “important” to wear a face covering in a confined space.
Johnson’s comments came after government minister Michael Gove said on Sunday that he did not think the use of masks should be imposed as a mandatory measure.
The Downing Street statement added that store employees and retailers should encourage customers to comply, but the enforcement will be carried out by the police.
Children under 11 and disabled people will be exempt. The regulations will state that those who do not wear a mask risk a fine of up to £ 100 ($ 125).
However, questions have been raised as to why facial masks in stores have not been made mandatory as soon as possible, with fines being applied from 24 July.
In June, the World Health Organization updated its recommendations, calling on countries to encourage the general public to wear cloth masks in areas where the spread of the new coronavirus continues to be intense – and to all Health workers and caregivers wear medical masks everywhere they change in the clinical areas.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that everyone “should wear a cloth face covering when going out in public, such as at the grocery store or to buy other necessities ”
British government directives since May have advised the public to wear face covers in closed public spaces where they could come into contact with people they generally did not meet. Face masks have been mandatory on public transport in England since mid-June.