Face masks are mandatory to wear in shops and supermarkets as of today in England as part of the Government’s latest coronavirus measures. However, there are concerns that shopkeepers and market staff will not be able to enforce the rule if people choose to ignore it. BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty questioned Conservative minister Helen Whately over the reality of using police to ensure the measure is followed.
The MP said: “We know that the vast majority of people do follow the rules, and there is the option for the police to be involved in enforcement, and for there to be fines.
“But I really don’t think we will need to go down that line because most people will follow the rules. People do take this very seriously, they don’t want to see the COVID rate go up again.
“People know that by wearing a face mask, it’s about protecting those around you, particularly the most vulnerable.
“It’s about making sure we don’t get increased rates of COVID, which might mean we have to put restrictions on again.”
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In response, Ms Munchetty cited John Apter, the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales.
He had made it clear that the police don’t have the “capacity” to enforce the rule if people do not wear face coverings.
Ms Whately assured that she didn’t expect the police to be called every time someone doesn’t wear a face covering because it would be “inappropriate”.
She repeated that the Government knew the majority of people had followed the rules throughout the pandemic so far, and will continue to do so.
Face coverings have been compulsory on public transport since June 15.
Wearing them in a shope has been mandatory in Scotland since July 10.
Children under 11 years old and those with “certain disabilities” will be exempt.
Experts recommend to not purchase masks with filters as they should be reserved for healthcare workers.
It is preferable to wear one with two or three layers in it for maximum protection.