Will children have to wear face masks when the rules change in England?

Will children be expected to wear face coverings when the rules change? (Photo: Shutterstock)

In England, rules regarding face masks are changing, with new measures being introduced this week to make it mandatory to wear them in some public places.

But will children be expected to wear face masks? And what happens if you’re caught not complying with the law?

This is everything you need to know.

When do the rules change?

In England, face coverings have been mandatory on public transport since 15 June, but at the end of July the rules are being updated once again.

From 24 July, the use of face coverings in shops and supermarkets will be made mandatory.

The government defines a face covering as “something which safely covers the nose and mouth”.

You are permitted to use either single-use face coverings or you may also use reusable cloth face masks as well.

The government also has guidance for making your own face mask at home, if you do not wish to buy one, which you can view here.

Will children have to wear face masks?

Young children will be exempt from wearing face masks in public when the rules change on 24 July.

The government has stated that children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing face masks in public. Older children will be expected to comply with the new rules.

Who else is exempt from wearing a face covering?

There are a few reasons why someone might not be able to wear a face covering.

The government has provided a list of people and circumstances exempt from the new rules:

  • If you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering due to physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • If putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • If you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • To avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • To eat or drink, but only if you need to
  • To take medication
  • If a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

Other scenarios where you are permitted to remove your face covering when asked:

  • If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
  • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

What happens if I’m caught not wearing a face mask?

If you are not included in the list of people who are exempt from having to wear a mask, you could find yourself in trouble with the law.

Transport operators can deny service to someone not wearing a mask, and shops and supermarkets can refuse entry to those not wearing a mask as well.

If necessary, police and Transport for London authorised officers can issue fines of £100 to those not wearing a face covering.

If you pay the fine within two weeks, the fine is reduced from £100 to £50.