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‘It’s too big an ask’ - Businesses admit they won’t force customers to wear face coverings

PUBLISHED: 16:24 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:24 22 July 2020

People will have to wear coverings in shops when it becomes compulsory from July 24. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Images

People will have to wear coverings in shops when it becomes compulsory from July 24. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Shopkeepers have mixed feelings about “policing” mask-wearing among customers, with some arguing it is “too big an ask” for small independent stores.

Adam Birch said the change in guidance was too late and that he wouldn't be strictly policing it in his Great Yarmouth store, Gold and Silver Exchange. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANAdam Birch said the change in guidance was too late and that he wouldn't be strictly policing it in his Great Yarmouth store, Gold and Silver Exchange. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

On Friday, July 24, it will become compulsory for people to wear face coverings in shops to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

But the chairman of Norfolk’s police federation, Andy Symonds, said the job of “enforcement” will be down to shopkeepers - not police.

For Adam Birch, owner of Gold and Silver Exchange in Great Yarmouth, he “definitely won’t be calling 999” if someone appears in his shop without a mask.

He said: “The whole thing has come pretty late and I don’t agree with it.

“It doesn’t exactly instil confidence in customers if they get the idea in their heads that shops are only safe if you wear a mask.

Adam Birch said the change in guidance was too late and that he wouldn't be strictly policing it in his Great Yarmouth store, Gold and Silver Exchange. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANAdam Birch said the change in guidance was too late and that he wouldn't be strictly policing it in his Great Yarmouth store, Gold and Silver Exchange. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

“If someone comes into my store without one, I certainly won’t be turning them away. I won’t be providing masks either - that’s up to the customer to do.

“Older people and those who are ill have been wearing masks anyway - well before it was made compulsory.”

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Likewise for Dallas Parker from The Dead Good clothing store, enforcing mask-wearing is “too big an ask” for independent stores.

The Dead Good Shop, run by Dallas Parker, will be reminding customers to wear masks but not turning those away who aren't wearing one. Photo: GoogleThe Dead Good Shop, run by Dallas Parker, will be reminding customers to wear masks but not turning those away who aren't wearing one. Photo: Google

He said: “What’s the point of making them compulsory now instead of June 15, when non-essential retail was allowed to re-open?

“In this store, we’re down to a skeleton staff and are busy enough as it is - we don’t have time to be checking customers are wearing masks.

We will expect customers to provide their own masks, and will have signage put in place reminding people.

“But we won’t be turning away anyone who isn’t wearing one.

“That’s too big an ask for small independent shops who have really struggled because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

But for the manager of Flirts dance shop on King Street, staff will be enforcing the rule as best they can.

She said: “I am scared that asking people to wear masks will turn them away, but we have to do what the government tells us to help minimise risk.

“We’ve got a sign to remind people, and if they don’t have a mask, we’ll probably get them to stand at the door while we pass them the items they need.

I’d be worried that if I didn’t, we’d get shut down or fined as a result.”


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