Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings and masks

Last updated: 28 Feb 2022 - see all updates
Published: 30 Oct 2020

Rules and guidance on wearing face coverings and masks, including exemptions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings and masks
If you break the law on face coverings

If you break the law on face coverings

It is an offence not to comply with face coverings requirements.

If you don’t wear a face covering when it is the law to do so and you are not exempt from wearing one, you could be liable to a fine or the police could issue you with a penalty notice for up to £60.

If you are responsible for premises where face coverings are required, such as shops, restaurants or places of worship, you should take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in your premises and to promote compliance with the law for example, by:

  • displaying posters indicating visitors and clients are entering a space where face coverings are required by law (these are available via our stakeholder toolkit)
  • keeping a supply of face coverings to give out if someone has forgotten or damaged theirs
  • politely asking visitors/clients to wear face coverings
  • reducing capacity if the setting become overcrowded

You should respect those who are exempt from wearing a face covering.

You have a duty to consider the relevant guidance when carrying out your functions, and be able to demonstrate that any decision taken contrary to it has a clear rationale behind it. It is an offence not to have regard to this guidance.

Where face coverings are required and no exemptions apply, a member of the public who does not wear a face covering could be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice. This is because the police, have been given enforcement powers in law to issue fixed penalty notices in such circumstances. The penalty is £60. This is reduced to £30 if the penalty is paid within 28 days.

The legislation states that the person issuing the penalty must reasonably believe that it is necessary and proportionate to do so in order to prevent the individual from continuing to contravene the face coverings regulations.

First published: 30 Oct 2020 Last updated: 28 Feb 2022 -