The decision follows weeks of prevarication by the government over their worth during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government had previously urged people to wear coverings when coming into contact with others they do not live with, though it was not made mandatory.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to set out the new guidance on face coverings on Tuesday, but it is believed that children under 11 and people with certain disabilities will be exempt, as they are on public transport. "We have to keep it under control".
The UK Government has framed general public use of masks are a neutral tool against COVID-19, with England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam commenting over 100 days ago: "There is no evidence that general wearing of the face masks by the public who are well affects the spread of the disease".
People face fines of up to £100 if they do not wear face coverings in shops under rules that come into effect from 24 July, which are created to reassure visitors to the high street amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
During an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today program on Tuesday, Ken Marsh - who represents police officers in the United Kingdom capital - claimed it would be "nigh-on impossible" to enforce the new requirement on face masks, due to come into law in England on July 24.
He said businesses and the health service would benefit because staff will be less likely to catch the virus, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
Such a change to the law would bring England broadly in line with Scotland, Ireland and around 120 countries that have already mandated facial coverings to mitigate the potential detrimental effects of easing lockdown.
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"I haven't been wearing a face mask but it's belt and braces and I'm waiting on clarity on using visors which are a lot more comfortable".
"Lack of strong evidence of their effectiveness should not be considered a problem but the evidence is accumulating that they have a part to play in reducing transmission and also in protecting the wearer", said Keith Neal, an epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham. Monday evening, his government announced it would be compulsory.
British authorities are hoping the public will simply comply.
The mayor of London, Labor Sadiq Khan, hailed on the BBC this "flip-flop" of the Conservative government, stressing that "this small measure, combined with others, could make a huge difference. The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine", he said.
George Eustice told BBC Radio 4: "At the moment we take one step at a time and we've taken the view in this next step that we should make it mandatory in retail environments".
The new requirement only applies to in England.
Germany, Greece, Spain, and Italy have all already made face masks compulsory in shops, as has Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.