Borough Market in London has become the first outdoor venue in the UK to make mask-wearing compulsory.
The decision comes as the country’s major supermarkets warned they would deny entry to shoppers who do not wear face masks unless they are medically exempt.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also pressuring the government to mandate the wearing of face masks on high streets and in other busy outdoor spaces.
Borough Market, the capital’s most popular food and drink market, said its new mask rule was legally enforceable under a set of Victorian-era by-laws that have been updated due to the pandemic.
Any customer or stall operator could be fined up to £50 ($68) if they fall foul of the rule.
The market also banned visitors from eating and drinking on site to prevent people from gathering.
Kate Howell, development director at Borough Market, told The National the changes were in response to the more infectious strain of the virus.
“It’s a really important change of behaviour that we’re asking people to make in an outdoor venue space,” she said.
Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons are among the major supermarkets who will ban shoppers not wearing a mask.
The supermarkets say they are legally allowed to deny entry to their premises as it is private property, however, enforcement of mask-wearing is generally a police responsibility.
Police chiefs have repeatedly said they do not have enough officers to enforce mask-wearing.
The failure to wear a mask in settings where it is compulsory carries a £200 fine. The penalty doubles for each repeat offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said on Monday the new strain made outdoor settings more dangerous.