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Coronavirus: UK prepares to mask up as new face covering rules come into force

From Friday shoppers will need to cover their faces in shops, banks and takeaways or face a £100 fine

J Sainsbury PLC - UK prepares to mask up on eve of new face covering rules

People in England will need to wear a mask when visiting shops, banks, or picking up a takeaway from tomorrow under new rules unveiled by the government.

Despite repeated confusion over the application of the rules, and multiple contradictions by cabinet ministers, the policy information states that people will need to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets and other indoor space, the only exception being if you are eating inside.

Those caught not abiding by the rules will risk a £100 fine, although this can be reduced to £50 if it is paid within two weeks.

Rules on compulsory mask-wearing are already in place in Scotland, however, there is not a blanket policy that covers the entire UK.

Enforcement of the rules in England will be the responsibility of the police, not retailers, with some outlets such as J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY) already saying they will not challenge shoppers not wearing masks as they may have a reason not to wear a face covering.

The British Retail Consortium has also weighed in, saying shops should encourage customers to wear masks but ultimate enforcement lies with the police.

The new rules also extend existing regulations on wearing masks on public transport, which has been in place since June 15.

Mask boom?

With more countries considering the mandatory use of masks in public to help curb coronavirus infections, companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of face coverings could be in line for ‘mini-boom’ in sales as more customers flow in to abide by the rules.

Companies such as planarTECH, Haydale Graphene Industries PLC (LON:HAYD) and Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) have switched some capacity to the production of graphene-based face masks, while Westminster Group PLC (LON:WSG) is to distribute and market dedicated vending machines.

Meanwhile, plastics specialist Symphony Environmental Technologies PLC (LON:SYM) could also be heading for an upswing in demand following news on Thursday that its d2p antimicrobial technology tested effective against bovine coronavirus, a close surrogate for its human equivalent.

A masterbatch of d2p, which is designed to be embedded in plastic so it will not wear off, was assessed by lab group Eurofins which detected a virus reduction of 99.84% in 24 hours.

Quick facts: J Sainsbury PLC

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