We expect that the wearing of face coverings will no longer be legally required in most places in England from 19 July, subject to confirmation on 12 July. The legal requirement to wear a face covering in shops, on public transport and in other enclosed public spaces will end. However official advice will say face coverings should still be worn, as a voluntary measure. The Prime Minister has said it will be a matter of personal responsibility.
The legal need to wear a face covering in certain places will remain, for the time being, in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Scottish government has said it could keep some basic measures in place, including wearing masks at its next review due in August.
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance say they will continue to wear face coverings:
- Indoors, in any situation which is crowded, or where people are close together
- If asked to by any “competent authority”
- If someone else was uncomfortable, as a “common courtesy”
Businesses have been considering what they will do and no doubt there will be variations between businesses. It is likely that some businesses could refuse you service, or the right to travel without a face covering.
Firms decide their own health and safety measures and insisting on a face covering could be a reasonable rule, says Adam Wagner, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. If you took your mask off once inside a building or train, for example, staff would have the right to ask you to leave. If you are currently exempt from wearing a mask companies will probably have to continue to honour that exemption.
Why is continuing to wear a face covering sensible after 19 July in our industry?
- Evidence suggests transmission is mostly happening in indoor spaces where people are in close proximity
- Face coverings worn over the nose and mouth reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking
- The main purpose is to protect others from COVID, rather than yourself. If everyone wears one, the risks drop for all
- Masks can also help reduce virus spread from people who may be contagious but have no symptoms
- Cutting virus transmission is important because many people are not yet fully vaccinated
- Some new virus variants appear more transmissible than earlier COVID strains
NASP considers personal responsibility will mean refreshed risk assessments for ourselves on an individual basis and similarly for each individual client.
NASP recommends that:
- You consider still wearing a face covering after 19 July for yourself and your clients
- You continue to sanitise the car as you have been doing during COVID and to continue to use hand sanitiser
Consider the following for each client and for yourself:
- Underlying health conditions and that of close family
- Any travel abroad or to amber and red listed countries (check these regularly as they will change)
- Level of vaccination
- Any contact with someone who tests positive or is symptomatic
DVSA has not issued any guidelines at the time of publishing this, we will update you of any changes as soon as we hear from the DVSA.