London (CNN)Wearing face masks in shops and supermarkets in England will be compulsory from July 24, with those failing to comply with the new regulation facing fines of up to £100 ($125), the UK government will announce Tuesday.
Face masks in shops to be compulsory in England, as experts warn of 120,000 winter deaths
"There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus," a Downing Street spokesperson said.
"The Prime Minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24."
The new measures come as a report from the Academy of Medical Sciences warned that the UK must now prepare for a potential new wave of coronavirus infections in the winter more serious than the first, with a "reasonable worst-case scenario" of 119,900 Covid-related hospital deaths between September 2020 and June 2021.
The UK is one of the worst hit countries by coronavirus, with almost 45,000 fatalities, putting it third behind Brazil and the United States.
Report authors warn that Covid-19 is "more likely to spread in winter with people spending more time indoors and the virus able to survive longer in colder, darker winter conditions."
In the document, experts warn that "intense preparation" is urgently needed in the remaining summer months to reduce the risk of the health service being overwhelmed and to save lives this coming winter.
Scientists said that a combination of the possibility of a flu epidemic, a backlog of patients needing treatment and the disruption already created in the health system by Covid-19 posed a "serious risk to health in the UK."
Modeling suggested that there would be a peak in hospital admissions and deaths in January and February 2021 similar or worse than the first wave of the virus this spring, which would coincide with peak demand on the UK's health service.
"This is not a prediction, but it is a possibility," Professor Stephen Holgate, a respiratory specialist from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, who chaired the report, said in a statement.
He said the modeling suggested deaths could be higher with a new wave of Covid-19 this winter, "but the risk of this happening could be reduced if we take action immediately."
Minimizing community transmission, reducing transmission in hospitals and care homes, increasing testing capacity and vaccinating against flu were all needed to avoid such a scenario, the report said.
Last week, the head of Britain's national academy of sciences, the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan said the UK was "way behind" many countries in terms of wearing