London’s Borough Market becomes first outdoor space in UK to legally enforce face masks with anyone caught breaching rules facing £50 fine
- From Monday, Borough Market customers and vendors must wear face masks
- If they don’t wear masks in and around the stalls, they will face a £50 fine
- Government considering enforcing mask-wearing outdoors across the country
- Boris Johnson met cabinet last night to discuss an even-tougher lockdown
- Measures discussed included a ban on extended bubbles and limits on exercise
London’s Borough Market has become the first outdoor space in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of face masks.
From Monday, customers and vendors at the food and drink market will face a £50 fine if they do not wear a face covering in and around the stalls.
Pictures taken in the market in December showed vast swathes of shoppers crammed in as they browsed through stalls.
The drastic move comes as the Government considers making wearing masks outdoors compulsory for all Britons under harsh new lockdown rules.
Boris Johnson met cabinet colleagues last night to discuss an even-tougher lockdown – with measures including a ban on extended bubbles and limits on exercise.
A Whitehall source told MailOnline ministers have discussed going as far as saying people can only leave the house once a week – although No10 today denied this was on the cards saying the focus was on ‘bolstering enforcement and policing’.
London’s Borough Market (pictured last month) has become the first outdoor space in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of face masks
From Monday, customers and vendors at the food and drink market (pictured in December) will face a £50 fine if they do not wear a face covering in and around the stalls
Borough Market has its own set of bylaws passed in Parliament – which date back to before the Victorian era and have been updated to reflect the pandemic – meaning it can enforce mask wearing without it being a country-wide rule.
Kate Howell, director of development at the central London venue, said: ‘I think we just have to be responsible.’
Ms Howell said: ‘We’re open as an essential retailer but we want to keep it safe for everybody.’
Market organisers have encouraged mask-wearing and distancing throughout the pandemic – but with rising infection rates in the capital and the third national lockdown in England they felt they had to go further.
Borough Market (pictured in December) has its own set of bylaws passed in Parliament – which date back to before the Victorian era and have been updated to reflect the pandemic – meaning it can enforce mask wearing without it being a country-wide rule
Ms Howell explained: ‘While we’ve done everything we can to politely encourage people to wear masks and keep to social distancing and keep the space safe, now is the time to really show our intent.’
She went on: ‘We’ve got to a stage where we feel as responsible landlords that, actually given we do have these bylaws, in our reckoning that we’re able to say, ‘We’re going to make this mandatory’.’
Pre-lockdown, the market welcomed thousands of visitors each day, and Ms Howell joined other industry voices in describing the hospitality sector as ‘really hard hit by this whole period’.
‘It’s perhaps been the less-than-clear messaging at times that has had a huge impact on trade,’ she added.
Her comments come after the Government’s top medic suggested there could be times when there is ‘logic’ for wearing a mask outdoors.
Kate Howell, director of development at the central London venue (pictured in December), said: ‘I think we just have to be responsible’
Market (pictured in December) organisers have encouraged mask-wearing and distancing throughout the pandemic – but with rising infection rates in the capital and the third national lockdown in England they felt they had to go further
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told BBC Radio 4 there is a ‘risk’ of Covid-19 in ‘crowded’ outdoor environments such as a ‘queue’.
On the Today programme, he said: ‘If people for example are crowded together in a queue outdoors, if they’re really huddled together round a market stall or something – that is a risk with this virus – and in that situation, there might be some logic to people thinking about wearing masks.’
Under current rules, Britons can exercise with one other person or with their household or support bubble.
Police officers patrol whilst people shop, eat and drink at Borough Market on December 31
People shop for food and buy takeaway drinks in Borough Market in Central London (pictured)
But a Government source said the rule is ‘being used as an excuse for people to go for a coffee in the park with their friends’ and could be tightened, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi this morning suggested that shops are in the firing line under the Government’s latest lockdown push, stressing the need for everyone to wear masks and follow one-way systems in supermarkets.
He appealed for people not to stop and chat to friends they bump into while outside their homes – and also made clear that sitting on park benches during ‘exercise’ sessions was not recommended.
Meanwhile, Downing Street was unable to say whether people are allowed to get a takeaway coffee and drink it while walking with someone from another household.
Limits on individuals from different ‘bubbles’ exercising together also look to be in the pipeline as the government scrambles for ways of lowering transmission.
And in a piece of detailed tightening, the government has change the definition of ‘close contact’ so it applies when people have been in proximity for more than 15 minutes over a whole day. Previously the rule was 15 minutes of close contact in one go.
On a visit to the Ashton Gate vaccination centre in Bristol this afternoon, Mr Johnson echoed a dire message from Chris Whitty that the next few weeks are set to be the worst yet for the NHS.
People on Exmouth beach in Devon today, as ministers urged people not to sit on benches. It is not known whether they are from the same household
An ambulance arrives at the Royal London Hospital today amid fresh warnings about the spread of the virus
‘This is a very perilous moment because everybody can sense that the vaccine is coming in and they can see that the UK is vaccinating large numbers of those that need it most,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘My worry is, and Chris’s worry is, that this is the moment when that degree of false confidence, false complacency, and that when you look at what has happened in the NHS that complacency is not merited.
Chief medical officer Prof Whitty took to the airwaves to highlight the scale of the threat, saying that there are 30,000 people in hospital compared to the peak of 18,000 in April.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty took to the airwaves to highlight the scale of the threat, saying that there are 30,000 people in hospital compared to the peak of 18,000 in April
He urged people to remember that ‘every unnecessary contact’ was an opportunity for the virus to spread.
He insisted that although the NHS was in the ‘most dangerous situation anyone can remember’ vaccines mean the UK can be back to normal in ‘months not years’ – but he cautioned that the situation is a long way from that currently.
The UK announced a further 573 coronavirus deaths yesterday in the highest Sunday rise since April, and the third-deadliest Sunday of the entire pandemic as it emerged as many as one in five of all people in England may have had coronavirus. It could be as high as one in two people in some areas of east London and Essex, the modelling by Edge Health claims.
Infections also continue to be high, with 54,940 announced yesterday – the thirteenth day in a row they have been above the 50,000 mark.
Mr Johnson said it was clear to the public that the UK was in a ‘race against time’ to get vaccines out and ease pressure on the health service.
‘Far, far better for people to obey the rules that we have than simply to promulgate new rules,’ he said.
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