People could remove masks to sing their way round supermarkets under new Covid rules

New plan B exemption – designed for places of worship – is also applicable to other settings

Adam Forrest
Thursday 09 December 2021 17:11
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What are the 'Plan B' rules?

Boris Johnson’s new Covid rules mean shoppers could remove their masks in supermarkets so long as they walk around the store singing.

Under the prime minister’s plan B measures compulsory face coverings will be extended to most indoor venues from Friday – including cinemas, theatres and places of worship.

Mr Johnson said that there was an exemption for singing, mainly aimed at places of worship where a mask should be worn during the service but could be removed to sing hymns.

But government officials confirmed on Thursday this singing exemption would also be applicable to other indoor settings.

Asked whether a shopper could remove their mask in Tesco to sing, it was confirmed it would be within the rules – though officials stressed there needed to be a “reasonable excuse”.

Downing Street has said it would be “hard to justify” shoppers having a “reasonable excuse” to remove their masks to sing in supermarkets under the new plan B rules.

“We were absolutely clear there is a reasonable excuse required for someone who is seeking to do that,” Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said.

“Whilst it wouldn’t be for me to say, I think it would be hard to justify. These rules are set to be balanced and proportionate, we’ve seen how the public are responsible ... and we’re confident they will continue to be so.”

The exemption is another example of how the new measures appear to have some striking idiosyncrasies. Under plan B people are being told to work from home if they can from next week – but Mr Johnson said it was still possible for employees to attend Christmas parties.

Some have pointed out that guidance would not stop colleagues gathering at a pub to do their jobs.

Officials confirmed there was nothing within the rules to stop colleagues meeting at a pub to work, with the focus being on reducing the transmission risk from the commute and within the workplace.

It would be up to employers and employees to decide how to interpret the new guidance. But the advice is that if a worker does not need to go into the office, they should work from home, in order to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “Obviously, we have, sadly, been in this position before and employers and employee ... have demonstrated that they’re able to work together and come up with an agreement recognising both business need and also the needs of individuals and personal life circumstances.”

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