Public urged to ‘stick to the rules’ over face masks
People are being urged to embrace new face mask rules to protect shop staff and avoid putting unnecessary demand on the police.
New regulations come into effect next Friday, July 24, making the wearing of a face covering mandatory in shops, with certain exemptions for health, age or equality reasons.
Shops will be expected to encourage compliance and can refuse entry, while police have the power to issue a fine of £100.
Since last week’s announcement, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), has been working with the Home Office, retailers and trade bodies to understand the new regulations and how they will be enforced.
Retailers will be expected to manage entry to stores and compliance with the law, with police involvement as a last resort.
As with other coronavirus regulations, the NPCC said it would follow an approach known as the ‘four Es’ – engaging, explaining, encouraging and only enforcing where encouragement has been unsuccessful.
With police demand returning to pre-lockdown levels, as more venues open and roads become busier, concerns have been raised about increasing pressure being put on resources to enforce more new rules.
Suffolk Police Federation chairman Darren Harris said: “We’re seeing demand on police return to where it was pre-Covid, with people out and about, shops opening and more motorists on the road.
“The regulations are adding more work for my members to do.
“In Suffolk, we’ve embraced the four Es. I’m hopeful the requirement will have only a small impact on demand and that we continue embrace the four Es approach.
“I think it’s good that the public have been given time to make that change, and I think there needs to be an obligation on shops to make it a condition of entry.
“Shop workers are effectively on the front line, so if any abuse or aggression is shown towards them, we’ll attend.
“I’d urge the public to embrace the legislation and be sensible.”
Between March 27 and May 11, Suffolk police issued 246 of the 13,445 fines handed out across England for lockdown breaches.
Last week, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore urged people to stick to the new guidelines and help avoid overburdening the police.
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