Suffolk police outline mask enforcement policy

Suffolk police said it cannot yet say how Covid rules will be policed at Christmas. Stock picture. P

Suffolk Constabulary have said they will get involved in face covering disputes, if they become "violent or abusive". - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Suffolk police will get involved in mask disputes if they turn "violent or abusive", but are focusing on "explaining" the rules and "encouraging" people to follow them.

The current rules on face coverings, according to the latest government guidance, states: "In England, face coverings are now required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport.

"Face coverings are not required in hospitality venues where food and drink are consumed (such as pubs, cafés and restaurants), or during exercise (such as gyms), including dancing (such as nightclubs)."

This applies to anyone over the age of 11, unless they have an exemption.

People can expect to be hit with fines of £200 for non-compliance, which can rise to £6,400 for repeat offences. 

Other restrictions include the requirement of an NHS Covid pass or negative test required to enter large gatherings and some indoor venues, which includes football games at Portman Road.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “When we have had previous restrictions around the wearing of face masks, most cases involving non-compliance have been resolved by staff in the first instance."

Health experts are advising people to carry on wearing masks and observing social distancing rules.

While face coverings are required by law in most indoor settings, the stores are not responsible for enforcing the rules. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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Retailers, like supermarkets and shops, are required to encourage the use of face coverings using signs, and have the right to refuse entry those who choose no to comply, but they are not responsible for enforcement.

Morrisons and Sainsburys have said they will have staff encouraging people to wear masks at the door of their stores, while Asda will be providing people with masks if they have forgotten theirs. 

Suffolk Constabulary are hoping they will not be required to step into face covering related disputes, but are willing to step in when situations escalate.

A spokesman said: "Non-compliance does not and should not always result in police involvement and everyone has a role to play in encouraging people to be responsible.

"Our approach will be focused towards engaging, explaining the risks and encouraging people to comply with the rules but we will get involved if people are violent or abusive towards staff."