Shoppers not wearing face masks are likely to be refused service under new Government rules.
Ministers are drawing up guidance for shop managers on how to enforce the compulsory wearing of face coverings, which comes into force next week.
It is expected to make clear they have the right to refuse customers service – just as they can turn them away if they were being rude or aggressive.
Although shoppers who do not wear a mask can be fined up to £100, police chiefs say they will struggle to enforce the rules which apply from Friday, July 24.
Shoppers not wearing face masks are likely to be refused service under new Government rules. Above, shoppers wearing face coverings exit a shop on Oxford Street, London, on Tuesday
John Apter, of the Police Federation, said yesterday that officers ‘simply don’t have the resources’ and should only be called upon ‘as a last resort’.
Martin Hewitt, of the National Police Chiefs Council, revealed ministers had failed to consult chief constables before announcing the new rules on Monday night.
The guidance on the compulsory wearing of face masks – due in the next few days – will also spell out that it will be up to individual shops to decide how strict they want to be with customers.
Ministers are drawing up guidance for shop managers on how to enforce the compulsory wearing of face coverings, which comes into force next week. Above, a woman wearing a face mask walks along a steeet of closed shop in Leicester
Outlining the rules in the Commons yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained that compulsory face masks would help restore customer confidence
Outlining the rules in the Commons yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained that compulsory face masks would help restore customer confidence.
He said: ‘In recent weeks we have reopened retail [areas] and footfall is rising. We want to give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protection for those who work in shops.
‘Sadly, sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disproportionately in this crisis.
‘The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75 per cent higher amongst men and 60 per cent higher amongst women than in the general population.’
Mr Hancock added that children under 11 and Britons with certain disabilities would be exempt from the rules and the ‘liability’ for wearing a mask would lie with individual shoppers.
Not all Cabinet ministers got the memo…
The Cabinet appeared to be more divided than ever over the compulsory wearing of face masks yesterday.
While Michael Gove was seen walking into a Pret a Manger without one, Liz Truss was pictured entering the exact same branch wearing a blue face mask only minutes later.
Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, claimed on Sunday it was ‘basic good manners’ to wear masks in shops.
Bare-faced cheek: Mr Gove leaves Pret on Tuesday, left, without a mask. Right, a masked Liz Truss exits the same branch
Yesterday morning however he went against his own advice while buying his breakfast.
Shortly afterwards, Miss Truss, the International Trade Secretary, entered the same Pret in Westminster wearing a similar blue mask to the one Boris Johnson wore last Friday as he visited a shop in his constituency.
Some Conservative Party members have been cutting up their membership cards in protest at the Prime Minister’s decision to make the coverings mandatory.
Several posted messages and pictures on social media claiming the new rules were incompatible with the party’s libertarian ethos.
He stressed: ‘Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply.
‘The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.’
However, Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne challenged Mr Hancock in the Commons, branding the masks a ‘monstrous imposition’,
Downing Street announced the rules on face masks on Monday night only a day after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove implied they would not be compulsory in shops.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he did not think coverings would be ‘mandatory’ and the Government would be better off trusting the public.
Labour’s health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth yesterday criticised ministers for ‘muddle’, pointing out that even US President Donald Trump is now wearing a mask.
He said: ‘After days of ministerial muddle, we finally have a decision.
‘I’ve long warned that this virus exploits ambiguity and that mixed messaging in a pandemic is so damaging.
It didn’t have to be this way. We didn’t have to have this confusion. The Royal Society and the World Health Organisation has long recommended wearing face masks.’
Mr Ashworth questioned why the Government was not introducing the rules immediately.
The measures will not apply to shop workers on the grounds that tills are often behind plastic screens and they will be allowed to protect themselves with adequate social distancing.
Meanwhile, the retail industry claimed it should not be responsible for enforcing the rules in case customers become violent or abusive.
Helen Dickinson, of the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘While retailers will play their part in communicating the new rules on face coverings, they must not be the ones enforcing these rules.
‘With hundreds of incidents of violence and abuse directed at retail staff every day, we welcome the announcement that enforcement will be left to the authorities, rather than potentially putting hard-working retail colleagues in harm’s way.’
Customers will be allowed to wear any form of face covering and the rules will bring England in line with Scotland, France, Spain and Italy.
The French government yesterday extended requirements for masks, announcing they would be compulsory in all public spaces from August 1, including offices, pubs, restaurants and cinemas.
Environment Secretary George Eustice did not rule out the mandatory use of face coverings being extended to UK workplaces in future. Sources stressed the evidence is constantly under review.