Large fines may be enforced if you do not comply with mask-wearing regulations and there have already been several cases of them being given to members of the public
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The government are growing wary of the new Omicron variant and have introduced new Covid restrictions.
Mask-wearing has been introduced again for a range of outlets, such as on public transport and in shops.
Those who do not comply with the mandatory Covid-19 regulations put in place by prime minister Boris Johnson’s government, and are not officially exempt from wearing masks, could face fines.
The dangers of Omicron is not yet known, but research is underway to try and determine if the variant is more transmissible, has more severe symptoms and is more resistant to vaccines.
Early indications are unclear, but it is believed that symptoms will be milder and cases are currently still low.
However, the government and health secretary Sajid Javid have remained cautious, worried that mass infections would overwhelm the NHS.
So what fines can you expect?
How much can you be fined for not wearing a face mask in mandatory areas?
People who are not exempt from wearing a mask could face an initial fine of £200.
With every further offence, the fine is doubled and people could eventually end up with a maximum of £6,400.
Plenty of people are exempt and there are also certain scenarios, like medical emergencies, where masks are not required.
People who do not have to wear a mask must have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This applies to following:
- Those with physical or mental impairments that mean they are either physically unable to put on a mask
- Non-medical emergencies where someone is moving away from danger into a zone where there are mask regulations in place
- If you are asked to remove it for identification purposes
- Medical exemptions, so if you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or lung cancer
Who can stop you and fine you for not wearing a face mask?
The police and police community support officers can enforce the rules on people who do not comply with them, while transport operators can deny access to public transport services.
Local authority enforcement officers also have the powers to ask people to comply.
The government said: “Local authority enforcement officers can also use their enforcement powers against businesses for failing to display appropriate signage or breaching the prohibition against preventing someone from wearing a face covering.”
The rules took effect on Tuesday, November 30 and since, the Metro reported that a crackdown on passengers on public transport had taken place.
152 people were fined £200 on day one of the new laws and a further 125 were kicked off London’s Tube. Meanwhile, 127 passengers were denied entry to stations.
5,100 people were reminded to cover their faces by the staff of TFL.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.