Face masks are already compulsory on public transport and shops in Scotland, but England has been slower than every other European countries to enforce face mask. Last night the Government finally confirmed that all shoppers must wear them inside stores from 24 July.
Shoppers who fail to comply to the new government legislation will risk fines of £100 under the new plans to help stop a second wave of coronavirus as increased scientific evidence show that the second wave this winter could be far more devastating than the initial wave that started in February this year.
Young children and certain disabilities will be exempt from wearing a face mask in shops and shopping areas.
All retailers will be expected to advise customers to wear masks but their staff will not be fined or able to enforce the law. Instead, police will be given the powers to dish out fines and are expected to do this quickly to ensure face masks become something that everyone wears.
Local shops and retailers in the UK are all starting to reopen and have had to manage with the legislation required around social distancing to ensure their shops are safe to reopen and cover all the new legalities. They will now have to ensure that customers are wearing masks whilst they are inside their premises as well.
Initially, it is expected that many shoppers either won't have a mask or will probably refuse to wear it especially in smaller local shops. This will put local retailers and their employees in an awkward and potentially vulnerable position as they try and enforce the law or potentially refuse to allow people in to their shops to ensure other customers feel comfortable and safe on their premises. Concerns have been risen about potential abuse towards staff as they try to ensure shoppers are all wearing masks.
Another issue with all shoppers wearing face masks is a rise in shop lifting as CCTV becomes almost redundant when faces are covered. Small retailers are particularly vulnerable to this as they don't have security on the doors that many larger retailers have. Studies have also shown that shoppers are more likely to be abuse to staff when wearing face masks as they feel they are more anonymous and less concerned with being recognised.
The SME club has been campaigning throughout the lockdown to #saveourshops and is helping small and local retailers to survive this difficult period.