The wearing of face coverings will be compulsory for retail staff as well as for customers, the government has announced.
Businesses that don’t comply could risk closure or penalties of up to £10,000.
In addition, anyone who can work from home is being urged to do so, a reversal of previous advice encouraging office and backroom staff to return to work so long as premises were ‘covid-secure’.
The fines for members of the public not wearing a face mask when required are to double, from £100 to £200 – something that could affect retail customers.
Announcing the new coronavirus restrictions, the PM said the UK has reached a “perilous turning point” in its fight against covid-19 and must “act now to avoid still graver consequences later on”.
He also warned that the measures could remain in place for as long as six months, saying: “For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives.”