Face coverings are now mandatory again in shops and on public transports in England as part of new measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

From Tuesday (November 30), shops can have the power to turn away any customers who refuse to wear a face covering.

Those who do not wear a mask can also face fines of up to £200.

READ MORE: Omicron Covid variant's unusual symptoms that are 'very different' from Delta

It comes as further Omicron cases were detected in the UK - including the first in the North West.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that he hoped the new rules would be “temporary” and will be reviewed again in three weeks time.

Government guidance states face coverings are required in all ‘public facing areas’ which include shops, supermarkets, takeaways (without an area for eating in), public transport, premises providing personal care and beauty treatments, and transport hubs.

Other settings include pharmacies, estate and letting agents, retail galleries, retail travel agents, auction houses, premises providing veterinary services, post offices, banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses.

Wearing a face mask can reduce the spread of infection as they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main sources of transmission of the virus.

However, face coverings do not have to be worn in hospitality settings such as pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and outdoor spaces.

The government has also published a list of five 'reasonable excuses' for refusing to wear one and who is exempt.

Where don't you need a mask?

The government has released five main excuses and a list of exemptions for not wearing a mask.

People who do not cover their faces with a mask could end up with a £200 fine.

This is doubled for each offence and could land people with a maximum fine of £6,400.

1. Physical and mental impairments

A person is not required to have a face covering if they are physically unable to wear the mask or put it on.

Any mental illness that means a mask cannot be worn without 'severe distress' also means that a person is exempt.

If a person is accompanying or giving assistance to another person that requires lip-reading, then a mask if not required.

2. Medical emergencies

People do have just cause to remove their masks under certain circumstances.

It means that a person may remove their mask to avoid harm or injury to themselves or others, this includes for medical treatment.

If it is 'reasonably necessary' for a person to eat or drink, then they can remove their mask to do this.

This is also the case if a person needs to take any medication they may have.

3. Non-medical emergencies

Similarly, if a person is moving into a place where masks are required, but is doing so to avoid injury or escape harm, then they are not required to wear their mask.

If they do not have one, they will not be required to find one in these circumstances.

4. Requested to remove mask by others

A person may be required to remove their face mask by another for identification purposes.

Bus and train drivers can ask people to lower their masks should they require identification for a ticket or a railcard.

This is the same for shops, banks, building societies and post offices where ID is required.

In pharmacies, the pharmacist may require a person to lower their mask 'in order to assist in the provision of healthcare or healthcare advice'.

Police or other local authorities can also make requests that people remove their face coverings.

5. Mask exemptions in the UK

You may be medically exempt from wearing a mask, so if you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or lung cancer.

Paramedics and police officers are not required to wear masks.

You do not need to show an exemption card if you are exempt, but it is advised as it may help explain your situation.

Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear a mask either.

People who are are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate are exempt.

The exemption also applies where the putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress

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