The Chief Minister this morning announced that the Government would legislate for the use of face coverings in certain circumstances, as advised by the Director of Public Health. Today the Minister for Civil Contingencies, Samantha Sacramento MP, has published regulations introducing requirements for the mandatory wearing of face masks in certain spaces such as on public transport, at hair and beauty salons, in restaurants including terraces, and in retail shops.
Although it was already mandatory for employees to wear masks in many of these establishments where social distancing could not be maintained as directed in their permits for operation, concerns over the spread of the virus and a lack of compliance with the conditions in permits issued to some businesses has led to these new regulations. The rules on masks have not changed – they have just been made mandatory by law.
All employees working in retail shops, restaurants, and in hair and beauty salons will now have to wear a mask at all times, except in certain limited circumstances, such as during breaks for meals, or where it is essential to remove a mask to avoid injury. Previously, business owners were liable where employees failed to wear a mask as necessary; under the new regulations an employee who does not wear a mask as required by the legislation will be committing an offence.
In addition, masks must be worn by everyone using or working in a public service vehicle, which includes buses and taxis. There are some limited exceptions, such as where an individual is unable to wear a mask because of any physical or mental illness or disability, or in certain emergency situations. Children under the age of 11 travelling in a public service vehicle do not have to wear a mask.
The new regulations allow officers of the Royal Gibraltar Police and Environmental Health Officers to issue on the spot fines of £100 to any employee or business owner breaching the regulations.
HMGoG continues to recommend the use of masks by any person inside establishments if the rules of social distancing cannot be observed and may extend compulsory mask use in the near future if necessary.