After days of conflicting statements from government ministers, the British government plans to announce Tuesday that masks will be mandatory in shops in England as of July 24. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that masks "should be worn" in shops, but cabinet minister Michael Gove said Sunday that face coverings shouldn't be mandatory, leading to calls from the opposition for "urgent clarity" on the issue, the BBC reports. Under the new regulations, people who refuse to wear masks in stores could be fined up to $125, reports the Guardian. The government says it wants retail staff to encourage mask-wearing, although enforcement will be up to police.
Wearing masks in shops is already mandatory in Scotland and in many of Britain's former European Union partners, including Germany, Spain and Italy. A recent YouGov poll found that only 36% of Britons wear masks in public, compared to 86% in Spain and 73% in the US.. Like President Trump, Johnson—who ended up in intensive care with a COVID-19 infection in April—only recently wore a mask in public for the first time. "The scientific evidence of face coverings, and the importance of stopping aerosol droplets; that’s been growing," he said Monday. "So I do think that in shops it is very important to wear a face covering." (Read more coronavirus stories.)