Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons that shopkeepers across England are being urged to call the police if anyone fails to wear a face covering.
Hancock said the mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops across England will be enforced by the police, despite them already being stretched to the maximum.
He told MPs that retailers should “call the police” if anyone refuses to wear a face covering from 24 July.
The Health Secretary told MPs, “In recent weeks we have re-opened retail and footfall is rising. We want to give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protection for those who work in shops.
“Both of these can be done by the use of face coverings.
“Sadly sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disproportionately in this crisis. The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.”
However, Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation said, the new law will be “impossible for enforcement” as he called for shopkeepers to “step up to the plate and take some
Marsh told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “It will be nigh on impossible for enforcement because you won’t have a police officer on every shop door because there isn’t enough of us.
“If a shopkeeper calls the police because someone hasn’t got a mask on, they haven’t got the power to detain them so that person can just walk away.
“We’ll be driving around and around London looking for people who weren’t wearing masks, it’s absolutely absurd.”
Anyone who fails to wear a face covering can be fined up to a £100 reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Children under the age of 11 and people with certain disabilities will be exempt, and the police will carry out the enforcement and not retail staff.