Face covering rules: all the settings where face coverings are still required as Covid Plan B ends

Face masks are no longer a legal requirement in England, but will still be recommended in some settings
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The Prime Minister said the measures brought in at the end of last year to tackle the Omicron variant are no longer needed thanks to a decline in infections.

Face masks must still be worn on all London transport (Photo: Getty Images)Face masks must still be worn on all London transport (Photo: Getty Images)
Face masks must still be worn on all London transport (Photo: Getty Images)
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England will now return to Plan A measures which focuses on the booster and vaccine rollout as the first line of defence against coronavirus, and offers guidance rather than mandatory rules.

It means that face masks are now longer required to be worn by law, but in some settings, people will continue to be asked to wear a covering despite the rule change.

Where do face masks have to be worn?

As the focus moves away from legal measures, the government has said face masks will now be “a matter of personal judgement”.

While masks are now longer a legal requirement in England, guidance does still suggest coverings should be considered in enclosed and crowded spaces if coming into contact with strangers.

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Boris Johnson told MPs: “In the country at large we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet – but we will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.”

As such, shoppers and commuters will still be asked to wear face coverings in some settings.


Both Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and Waitrose said that customers will continue to be asked to wear masks in stores across England, unless they have a medical exemption.

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said: “Safety remains our highest priority. From Thursday, we’re asking our customers and colleagues in England to continue to wear a face covering in our stores if they are able to.

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“In Scotland and Wales face coverings remain mandatory for those who can wear them in our stores, in line with the latest Government restrictions.

“We continue to have a range of safety measures in all of our stores, including screens and sanitising stations."

Sainsbury’s added that its stores continue to have a range of Covid-19 safety measures in place, including screens and sanitising stations.

John Lewis and Waitrose will also ask customers to wear face masks in stores, but acknowledged that it will ultimately come down to “personal choice”.

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A spokeswoman for John Lewis and Partners, which includes Waitrose supermarkets, said: “We value the safety of our customers and partners and continue to follow the latest government guidelines.

“From Thursday January 27, we’ll be suggesting people wear masks in our stores, although it will be down to individuals to make a personal choice.”

Asda has said it will not expect customers to wear face masks while shopping, but asks customers to “consider wearing one in crowded spaces.”

Tesco, M&S, Aldi and Lidl have not confirmed their store guidance yet, but are expected to adopt a voluntary mask policy.

Public transport

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Face mask rules are expected to stay on public transport across England, but will no longer be enforced by law. This means commuters will not be fined if they choose not to wear one.

However, commuters in the capital will still be required to wear face coverings on all London transport as masks remain a “condition of carriage” on Transport for London (TfL) services.

It means anyone who does not comply could be denied travel, but they will no longer receive a fine or prosecution from the police.

City mayor Sadiq Khan has called on people to “do the right thing”.

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In a statement last week, he said: “If we have learnt anything from this pandemic, it is that we must not get complacent and undo all our hard work and sacrifices.

“That’s why face coverings will remain a condition of carriage on Transport for London (TfL) services. I’m asking everyone in our capital to do the right thing and continue to wear a face covering when travelling on TfL services to keep us all protected and to prevent further restrictions from being necessary later down the line.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group echoed this sentiment and said train firms will ask passengers to wear masks “out of courtesy to others”.

He said: “We expect most passengers will do the right thing and follow this advice.”

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