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VAT cut sees restaurants slash prices as face masks in offices are ruled out and deaths hit 44,968

VAT cuts for the hospitality and tourism industry start today, with businesses in this sector seeing value added tax reduction from 20 per cent to 5 per cent.

It comes as Environment Secretary George Eustice announced face mask wearing will not be compulsory in bars and restaurants.

His comments came after officials confirmed wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets will be made mandatory in England this month.

In a statement on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that anyone failing to comply with the order of wearing face masks in shops – which comes into force on July 24 – could face a fine of up to £100.

Mr Hancock said: “The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.”

Meanwhile, the coronavirus death toll in the UK increased by 138 to 44,968 on Tuesday.

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