Customers will be required to wear a face mask in takeaways and sandwich shops under laws to be introduced on Friday, The Telegraph understands.
Buying food from the counter and then sitting down to eat will be banned. Takeaways with seating inside will be counted as shops, where masks will become compulsory.
A government source said only premises with table service would not require masks, adding that customers would not be allowed to come in, buy a sandwich at the till, then sit down.
“You have to sit down straight away if you are going to eat in. If you can sit at a table, you don’t need to wear a mask,” the source said.
They would be subject to existing rules, requiring the taking of customers’ details in case of an outbreak.
It would mean customers in McDonald’s, for example, would have to wear a mask while ordering at the counter for a takeaway, or sit down for table service if they wanted to eat indoors, which the chain said it would offer to take part in the Chancellor’s August voucher scheme.
The Government changed the rules on masks as part of a range of measures to avoid a second Covid-19 wave in the winter. On Wednesday night Boris Johnson told backbench Tory MPs that he could not ease the rules too quickly or the country would risk a spike in cases, such as has occurred in America.
Although the Government last week announced that face masks would be compulsory in shops, there has been confusion over whether takeaways will be included. It caused a split in government, with Downing Street claiming masks would not be compulsory in takeaways, but Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, insisting they would.
Mr Hancock will publish an order that will amend the Public Health Act 1984 to make face masks compulsory in shops. People without one will face fines of up to £100. Children under 11 and those with disabilities are exempt. Shoppers can also be turned away at tills if they are not wearing a mask, The Telegraph understands. However, the legal responsibility to wear masks will fall on the individual, not the shops. “We’re not expecting businesses to become police officers,” a minister said.
On Thursday, the Government will publish its official guidance on masks for businesses, which has been drawn up by the Department of Health, working with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Cabinet Office and No 10.
It will highlight that retailers are “not expected to enforce it themselves, the police enforce it”, the minister said.
A Whitehall source said: “It’s common sense. At the end of the day, people will have the right to refuse to give service.” Shop staff will be recommended to wear masks, but it will not be compulsory.
Tom Ironside, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “In some cases, staff may greet customers and remind people about the need for masks. However, it must be up to the police to enforce these rules.”
On Wednesday night, businesses said they have not received clarity on the guidance, even though it is being released just a day before the rules come into force.
Pret a Manger said it had still not been told whether masks would be required for its customers,
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “The public needs clarity and reassurance if customer confidence is to bounce back.”
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Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said she hoped people would be “shamed” into leaving stores if they did not comply with the rules to wear masks.
She told LBC radio: “Calling the police should be a last resort for dealing with a mask issue. But the law is a law.
“My hope is that the vast majority of people will comply and people will be shamed into leaving the store.”