Retailers have called on shoppers to “respect the rules” and wear face coverings in stores from Tuesday after the government introduced new measures to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant across the UK.

The new regulations, which include the return of mandatory face coverings in shops and on public transport, come into effect in England from 4am tomorrow. 

Rules around face coverings differ in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where they will remain mandatory in retail stores.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) urged shoppers to “respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working shop staff”.

A BRC spokesperson said: “While enforcement of the government’s new mandate is one for the police, the ultimate responsibility for wearing a face covering in store rests with individual shoppers.”

the Co-op said it was not the role of its staff to enforce the new measures following an increase in violence against shopfloor employees throughout the pandemic: “Our priority is to provide a safe shopping and working environment for our customers and colleagues.

“As throughout the pandemic, we support our customers wearing a face covering when shopping in our stores. It’s not our place to enforce face coverings or to refuse to serve a customer who chooses not to wear one.”

Aldi chief executive Giles Hurley added: “The safety of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority. Following the latest Government announcement, wearing a face covering will be mandatory for everyone that shops at Aldi from Tuesday 30 November, except for those who have a medical exemption.”

Under the new mandate, fines of £200 will be handed out to those who fail to wear a mask in shops, banks and post offices or on public transport. Fines are set to double with every offence, up to a maximum of £6,400.

The new face covering rules will not apply to the hospitality sector.