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Police say that enforcing facemask law in Norfolk will be a ‘last resort’

PUBLISHED: 17:18 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:17 24 July 2020

Shoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Shoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

Police in Norfolk have insisted they will only use enforcement as a “last resort” when it comes to people not wearing facemasks in shops.

Shoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYShoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police can hand out £100 fines to people in shops, shopping centres, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England who flout the rules which came into force on Friday (July 24) in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

But a spokesman for Norfolk Police has said they will only take action if they have to.

The spokesman said: “Our policing approach will be consistent with all previous public health regulations, in that we will engage, explain and encourage, using enforcement only as last resort.

“Experience has shown us that the overwhelming majority of people in Norfolk and Suffolk take their responsibilities in controlling the virus seriously. We see the compulsory wearing of face coverings in shops and supermarkets as no different as people wanting to protect themselves and others.

“We all have a role to play in this and it’s up to the public and retailers to make the right decision and follow the regulations. This is particularly important as demands on police resources increase as the lockdown eases and we approach the busy summer period.

“Officers will only be deployed to incident where there is a breach of the peace or other criminal offences are being or likely to be committed.”

John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said forces “do not have the resources” to widely enforce the law that came into force on Friday and urged retail outlets “to play their part in making the rules crystal clear - if you are not wearing a face covering then you are not coming in”.

It was a sentiment echoed by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick who said she hoped shoppers who refuse to wear masks would be “shamed” into compliance.

However it seems as if the new rules have been taken to by shopers in Norwich who were showing “no push back” to the measures.

Face coverings are already mandatory in shops in Scotland and will be compulsory in shops in Northern Ireland from August 1 although there are no plans to make them compulsory in Wales.


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