BRitons who refuse to wear a face mask could face fines of £ 200 as the government tightens Covid restrictions to contain the Omicron variant, according to a report.
Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that face covering would become mandatory in stores and on public transport again to curb the spread of the new strain.
Those who refuse to wear a mask face an initial fine of £ 200, according to the Telegraph. It could reach £ 400 for a second offense and £ 800 for a third.
Anyone who repeatedly flouts the mask wearing rules could face a maximum charge of £ 6,400.
A rule change will be tabled in the House of Commons on Monday before the rules come into effect on Tuesday, the newspaper reported.
The system will remain the same as during the third national confinement. Those who pay their first fine within 14 days will see the fee cut in half to £ 100.
However, the face covering rules will not apply to the hospitality industry or to concerts, cinemas and theaters.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the measures were proportionate given the threat of the Omicron variant, which scientists believe may be more transmissible and resistant to vaccines.
“Doing it in this proportionate way where it’s for public transport, it’s for outlets, I think that’s the right level of response on the masks,” he told Sky News.
“It will be through government regulation and that means, I think, people will take it seriously. “
Mr Javid said the tightening of the rules would prompt the British to take the threat of the virus “more seriously”. The rules will be reviewed in three weeks.
Railroad bosses have warned train workers feared facing angry travelers refusing to wear masks once the rules came into effect.
Mick Lynch, Secretary General of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, said: “We support the wearing of masks but there are major enforcement issues and these are our members left on the front lines with angry passengers. who refuse to comply. “
James Lowman, managing director of the Association of Convenience Stores, said retailers were “extremely concerned about abuse against their staff” from customers who did not want to wear face coverings in a store.
The tightening of measures comes after a third case of the Omicron variant was detected on Sunday. The individual reportedly traveled to Westminster in central London while he was contagious.
This brings the total number of Omicron cases to three after two infections were detected in Essex and Nottinghamshire on Saturday.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said: “In light of the new Omicron variant, the government has taken swift and decisive action to impose face covering in certain settings, including shops and public transport.
“Face coverings can offer protection to those around you and can help prevent the spread of the virus. “