Customers entering retail environments in England are required to wear face masks from Friday (July 24) but many garages remain confused about the classification of a retail business and the rules surrounding the mandatory use of face masks.
The new rule, which only applies to customers, will bring England into line with Scotland and other major European nations like Spain, Italy and Germany.
Those who fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £100, reduced to £50 if the fine is paid within 14 days.
On its dedicated business support hub, The Motor Ombudsman states: “Customers entering garages, car showrooms and dealerships will need to wear a face cover from 24 July, when the new regulation for shops and supermarkets comes into force.
“Employees are not required to wear face covers.”
In both Wales and Northern Ireland, face coverings are strongly advised but not mandatory in a retail environment.
The latest scientific evidence suggests that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.
Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock said: “The liability for wearing a face covering lies with the individual.
“Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply, the police have the formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.
“This is in line with how shops would normally manage their customers and enforcement is of course a last resort, and we fully expect the public to comply with the rules as they have done throughout the pandemic.”
Many independent garages will have argued a case that they are a retail premises for the purposes of business rate relief as well as coronavirus grants.
Some industry experts suggest that the same definition will be used when it comes to the enforced use of face masks in England.
A WAIglobal spokesperson said: “With the government announcing that it will be mandatory to wear face masks from July 24 in all retail shops, the aftermarket is now being encouraged to invest in a new range of PPE equipment that will offer motorists reassurance when shopping and commuting.
“Enforcement will be carried out by police – not retail staff – and anyone failing to wear a face covering while shopping will be subject to a fine of up to £100.”
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