Ministers have also agreed to legislate to take the power to make the use of face coverings mandatory in a number of indoor settings.
This will not be implemented immediately. A publicity campaign will encourage the wearing of face coverings, and the Executive will consider the impact of this campaign at its meeting on August 20.
If there has not been a significant increase in the use of face coverings by this stage, the Executive will implement the power to make this mandatory.
Speaking about the decision, the Health Minister Robin Swann said:
“I am pleased that the Executive has supported my recommendation to move to a mandatory position. This Is In line with the expert advice provided to Ministers by the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser.
“We need to promote every available measure to stop the spread of Covid-19 in our community.
“The evidence in support of face coverings in shops and other enclosed spaces has become increasingly compelling.
“It should become second nature to us In the week. and months ahead. I am confident people will want to do the right thing.
“Thls Is particularly Important In light of the fact that shielding Is due to be paused from July 31. As people who have been shielding start resuming everyday activities, the wearing of face coverin s In shops Is a practical way to reassure them and help them keep safe.
am also very mindful of the need to protect retail staff.
“I acknovdedge that there are sincerely held views against face coverings and that some In the retail Industry would prefer a voluntary approach.
“However, I do not consider this would achieve the necessary compliance.
“The experience to date from a mandatory approach on public transport In Northern Ireland has been positive.
“Everyone needs to be aware that wearing face coverings Is first and foremost about protecting others.”
“It does not reduce the need to keep our distance and regularly wash our hands. lt must not lead to a false sense of security.”
A public information campaign will be undertaken and guidance issued to the retail sector. This will detail the exemptions to the measure.
Employees and children under 13 will not be required to wear the face coverings. Nor will those who cannot wear them on health grounds.
The public information campaign will also reinforce current messaging on social distencing, end bend and respiratory hygiene.