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Borough Market Is the First Outdoor Space in the U.K. to Legally Enforce Mask Wearing

Borough Market’s set of bylaws means it can fine people that don’t wear masks, unless they are medically exempt

The exterior of Borough Market in London Bridge Niklas Halle/AFP via Getty Images

Borough Market is the first outdoor space in the U.K. to legally enforce mask wearing, thanks to its having its own set of bylaws. London’s oldest food market, and the home of some of the city’s best restaurants, can now fine people who do not wear masks when visiting £50, unless they are medically exempt, as reported by ITV. The rules will apply to both customers and vendors at the market, and were introduced today, Monday 11 January.

The U.K. government is yet to mandate or explicitly encourage mask-wearing in outdoor settings during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier on Monday 11 January, one of the U.K.’s chief medical officers said that it would make sense to do so in “crowded” scenarios. Chris Whitty told Radio 4’s Today Programme that:

“If people for example are crowded together in a queue outdoors, if they’re really huddled together round a market stall or something, that is a risk with this virus and, in that situation, there might be some logic to people thinking about wearing masks.”

These comments and Borough Market’s decision come after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan declared an “emergency” in the capital amid steeply rising coronavirus cases.

Kate Howell, the director of development at Borough Market, said: “I think we just have to be responsible. We’re open as an essential retailer, but we want to keep it safe for everybody.” With this a unique case brought about by the market’s legal status, it is unlikely to be a meaningful moment in any future decision on mask wearing in public places.