July 21, 2020

Where do you have to wear a mask, and what are the consequences if you don’t?

At face value, new regulations around wearing masks in public seem to suggest that people who go out in public without a mask are liable to fines or prison sentences – both of which would result in a criminal record. However, close scrutiny of the regulations reveals that not wearing a mask is not a criminal offence. If you are not wearing a mask, the most that can happen to you is that you are refused entry to a public space.   

Instead, the onus falls on people who own or are responsible for that space to ensure that everyone entering it wears a mask. If drivers or operators of public transport, managers or owners of buildings or shops, employers, or  school principals allow people who are not wearing masks entry to enter that space, they then become liable to criminal prosecution. 

That said, even though not wearing a mask is not a criminal offence, wearing one is still a rule that citizens are required to adhere to – for their own safety and that of others. You must wear a mask in any public place, including places of work, shops, parks, churches, casinos, and at gatherings such as funerals. You must also wear a mask while exercising, although amendments to the rule allow you to remove your mask while undergoing ‘vigourous’ exercising – as long as put your mask back on as soon as you approach someone else. 

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