…’punishable with £200 fine’
The charge will then double for each offence, making it £400 the second time, £800 the third – up to £6,400. The new rules will begin on Tuesday at 4am
People who refuse to wear masks on public transport and in shops will face fines of £200 for their first offence, it has been reported.
Boris Johnson reintroduced mask-wearing rules to fight the spread of the “worst ever” Covid variant, Omicron, this week.
The new rules are set to become enforceable by penalty when a regulation change is tabled in Parliament on Monday, giving new powers which will begin on Tuesday at 4am.
Anyone who forgets and refuses to wear a mask will face a £200 fine the first time, but the charge will double for each offence.
This will make it £400 the second time, £800 the third – up to £6,400.
But the rules will not apply to the hospitality sector in restaurants and pubs, at concerts or events – nor can Parliament force MPs to wear them in the House of Commons.
Health secretary Sajid Javid defended the system which, as last year, will allow people to half their fine by paying within the first two weeks.
Speaking to Sky News he said: “Doing it in this proportionate way where it’s for public transport, it’s for retail outlets, I think is the right level of response on masks.
“It will be via government regulation and that means, I think, that people will take it seriously.”
Critics have asked why the scheme only applies to shops and transport, while others warned it would be incredibly difficult to enforce.
Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, told The Telegraph it would be train workers who would be left to deal with angry passengers who did not want to wear masks.
He said: “We support the wearing of masks but there are major issues about enforcement and it is our members left in the front line with angry passengers who refuse to comply.”
He added that the Government should make “resources available to police this reintroduction of masks”, and to end its “disjointed approach and get some consistency that avoids the chaos and confusion that is a hallmark of this administration”.
Shop workers and retail staff have also expressed concerns with the return of the rules.
James Lowman, the chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “We are helping retailers to prepare for the change in face-covering rules, but they are extremely concerned about abuse against their staff from customers who don’t want to wear a face covering in a shop.
“We will continue to urge stores to communicate the rules, but not to challenge those who refuse to abide by the rules.”
Supermarkets across the UK are now waiting on Government advice before they release further information to customers over what the rules will mean in store.