In response to a handful of confirmed cases of the omicron variant of the Chinese coronavirus, the British government will reportedly begin issuing fines again for not wearing masks on public transport and in shops, with the maximum penalty set at £6,400.
In a Downing Street press conference following the discovery of two cases of the omicron variant on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that mask mandates would once again be imposed on the public.
Mr Johnson did not announce the introduction of fines, nor did Health Secretary Sajid Javid during his Sky News appearance on Sunday. However, according to The Telegraph, the fines will come into effect on Tuesday following votes in the Commons on Monday.
Those who fail to wear a mask on public transport or in shops will face fines starting from £200. The fine will double upon each offence recorded, with a maximum penalty of £6,400.
The plans include an early payment discount, meaning the initial £200 fine could be cut in half if it is paid within two weeks of being issued in order to encourage the swift payment of the fines, the report claims.
There has already been pushback against the mooted measure, however, with transport unions questioning how they will be enforced.
The general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, Mick Lynch said that it shouldn’t be up to railway workers to force the public to put on the face coverings, arguing that the government should make more policing resources available if it wanted the mandate enforced.
“We support the wearing of masks but there are major issues about enforcement and it is our members left in the front line with angry passengers who refuse to comply,” Lynch said.
The managing director of one of the nation’s leading supermarket chains, Iceland, Richard Walker said that while the company “fully supports” the reintroduction of compulsory masks in shops, the supermarket chain will not force employees to “police” the actions of customers.
“Our store teams, alongside all retail workers, have shown heroic efforts in terms of ensuring safety for customers and building back consumer confidence and it’s crucial that we stay focused on the long-term recovery of the high street,” Walker told the Daily Mail.
“We need to continue to encourage people to shop in stores if they feel comfortable, and I’m hopeful that the latest guidelines won’t discourage customers from doing so.”
Others have criticised the government for not extending the restrictions further, with the deputy leader of the left-wing Labour Party, Angela Rayner calling for mask mandates to be placed on the hospitality industry as well, including pubs and restaurants.
While the government has claimed there are no plans to introduce another lockdown during the Christmas season, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that he could not rule one out, either.
“I do think people will take this more seriously. It’s important, I think, to act in a proportionate way and also in a temporary way,” Javid said.
Last Christmas, the Johnson government promised the nation a five-day break from lockdown restrictions, however, the government promptly flip-flopped on the decision, cancelling Christmas celebrations for much of England.
Lockdown for Christmas? Britons Avoid More Holiday Restrictions… For Nowhttps://t.co/wqcFFldwP2
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 28, 2021
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