NI Executive due to meet to discuss making face coverings mandatory in shops

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Ministers will gather to decide whether face coverings should be made mandatory in shops

By Connor Stringer

The Northern Ireland Executive will meet on Thursday to discuss whether face coverings should be made mandatory in shops, it is understood.

Ministers are set to gather to discuss the issue, which has already been made compulsory in Scotland and will become mandatory in England from Friday. 

It comes just a week after the Republic of Ireland announced that face coverings should be worn in all shops, retail settings and shopping centres.

At present, masks are only required when travelling on public transport, visiting hospitals or care homes in Northern Ireland. Exemptions for those who are not able to wear a face-covering for health and medical reasons, and for children under the age of 13.

A Translink train where passengers are now required to cover their face

Outdoor areas of a ferry where social distancing can be maintained are exempt from the requirements, along with school transport.   

Making the announcement two weeks ago, Minister Nichola Mallon said:  “As we move through the Executive’s recovery plan, more and more of the economy and society is opening up. 

"We must remember however that Covid-19 is still with us. We need to remain vigilant and continue to play our part in controlling the virus to protect ourselves and others. 

“As restrictions on our movement are eased, the safety of passengers and staff remains my priority. The evidence suggests that you can reduce the risk of spreading the virus by wearing a face covering. 

"That is why, with the support of my Executive colleagues and the unions, I am announcing that face coverings will be mandatory on public transport, from Friday, July 10th.

“The requirement will apply to passengers and also the staff in public areas who are not protected by a screen. However, there will be exemptions for those who are not able to wear a face-covering for specific health and medical reasons.” 

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