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Illustration by Security Management

Governments, Retailers Turn to Face Covering Rules for COVID-19 Containment

Britain and France moved to make face coverings compulsory in more places in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing to require masks inside all indoor public spaces by 1 August, and British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England starting 24 July.

Both countries’ face mask requirements are far behind other European countries—Germany, Spain, Italy, and Greece already require masks to be worn in enclosed spaces—and the other nations of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) can determine their own public health policies.

The change comes as part of an effort to get consumers back into shops to restart economies without risking new virus outbreaks, according to the Associated Press.

Skipping a face covering in an English shop, public transport, or other indoor setting could earn a £100 fine ($125 USD), and shops can refuse entry to anyone who fails to comply.

“We cannot let our progress today lead to complacency tomorrow,” Hancock said.

In the United States, the spread of the novel coronavirus could be “under control” within a matter of four to six weeks if everyone diligently wore face coverings, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield.

A CDC survey released yesterday found that more than 75 percent of American adults wear face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This marks a 13 percent climb from April to May as more Americans adopt face covering habits.

Among those who already wear face masks, 74 percent said they strongly agreed on positive outcome expectations and had positive attitudes toward mask use.

As of 8 July, 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia mandated face coverings in some capacity. Washington state has warned retailers and restaurants that they risk losing their business licenses for serving customers who don’t wear masks, The Washington Post reports.

Retailers are become battlegrounds for mask enforcement; starting today, Best Buy and most Starbucks stores will begin to require customers to wear face masks, USA Today reports. Best Buy is directing shoppers with concerns about the mask policy to shop online and choose home delivery or curbside pickup, instead of coming into the store.