The current rules for wearing masks in the UK

As the Plan B rules are officially scrapped, the question lingers of when and where people are expected to be wearing masks.

The Covid restrictions set up last year as part of the government’s Plan B finally end today (27 January). One of the Plan B measures to be put in place was mandatory mask-wearing. So, does that mean we are wholly exempt from using face coverings in the UK? Not necessarily.

Hand Sanitizer and Masks

England’s new rules for wearing masks

Starting today, the guidelines on masks and face coverings stand as thus:

  • It is no longer mandatory to wear masks in secondary school classrooms and communal areas
  • Attending events at outdoor as well as indoor venues will not legally require people in England to wear masks
  • While the government’s recommendation is that people be wearing masks in indoor or private spaces, it will be left up to individual discretion
  • According to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, wearing masks will remain mandatory for everyone using TfL services, including the London Underground
  • Certain retail stores will continue advising customers and staff to keep their masks on while shopping in-store

Current mask-wearing rules in Scotland

Masks are compulsory in most public indoor settings in Scotland. However, children aged 12 and under are exempt.

  • Wearing masks is legally required in public spaces like stores, public transport, and gyms (although temporary removal is permitted during exercises)
  • Masks must also be worn in workplace communal spaces and canteens, restaurants and pubs except when sitting (or dancing)
  • Secondary school pupils, as well as all school staff, must wear masks
  • Masks are mandatory in public indoor areas in universities

Wales’s rules for wearing masks

The current rules for masks in Wales are applicable for everyone who is 11 years or older.

Wearing masks is a legal requirement in all public indoor spaces. This includes restaurants, cafes and pubs except when seated. Masks are also a requirement in gyms but can be taken off when exercising.

Pupils attending secondary schools must also wear face coverings at least until the half-term ends.

When to wear masks in Northern Ireland

Like in other places, the rules in Northern Ireland requires people to wear masks in indoor public places like stores, public transport, restaurants and other hospitality settings (except when guests are settled down for food and drinks).

When inside schools, post-primary students and school staff must wear masks.

Visiting gyms and other venues for physical exercise does not require people to wear masks.

Children under 13 years of age are not legally required to wear masks in indoor public areas. Pupils of primary school do not have to wear masks when using public transport.

People wearing masks at Heathrow Airport

Will there be penalties for skipping the mask?

Not wearing a mask where it is mandatory will result in fines. However, the penalty varies from place to place.

In England, a person will incur a fine of £200 for not wearing a mask whilst using a TfL service. The fine will double with every successive offence, with the maximum fine going up to £6400.

The penalty in Wales starts at £60 for a first-time offence. The fines double with each repeat offence and can go up to a maximum of £1920. People with multiple offences can also be taken to court; fines do not have a limit in such cases.

In Scotland, rule-breakers may be issued with a penalty of £60 by the police for not wearing a mask.


If you are travelling overseas, it is best to do a little bit of prior research regarding the rules of the country you are visiting. As for the pre-travel Covid tests you may need, we have you covered. For the full range of COVID-19 travel tests we offer, visit: