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Retailers told mask enforcement is last resort for police

Face mask enforcement will only be the last resort, police leaders have told the retail industry. It followed guidance released by the College of Policing.

On the day new rules started to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, police leaders said they would only enforce against the public in exceptional circumstances as the last resort.

Shop staff must refuse entry to people not wearing a face covering and not rely on officers to impose the new regulations.

Guidance for officers has been issued by the College of Policing on the new rules which come into force from today.

The Regulations are:
No person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face covering.

Definition of a face covering: a covering of any type which covers a person’s nose and mouth.

Relevant places where face coverings must be worn include, but are not limited to:
a) a shop (exemptions apply)
b) enclosed shopping centres, excluding any area in that building which is open to the public and where seating or
tables are made available for the consumption of food and drink
c) banks and building societies
d) post offices
e) enclosed transport hubs

Relevant places do not include:
a) restaurants with table service, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs
b) bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
c) public houses
For the purposes of these Regulations a ‘relevant person’ includes a constable and a police community support officer (PCSO).

Children under the age of 11 and retail staff doing their jobs are also exempt from the regulations.

Adults may be fined £100 – reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

You can read the full set of guidelines HERE

The College of Policing said: “Policing intends to work in partnership with relevant business owners and their staff to ensure face coverings are worn when they should be. We welcome their support in engaging with the public in the first instance, explaining the new requirements and encouraging compliance, to keep us all safe.

“It should be noted that the majority of relevant places, ie, shops and retail outlets, are private premises and their staff have the right to control access. Police officers attendance should only be required as a last resort.”

The Police Federation said retailers must make it “crystal clear” to customers that if they are not wearing a face covering, they will be refused entry.

National Chairman John Apter said: “As face coverings become a mandatory requirement in stores, police officers are yet again adapting to a new set of unprecedented laws and guidelines which they wouldn’t have even dreamed of before lockdown.

“It is our members who are expected to police what is a new way of living and I would urge retail outlets to play their part in making the rules crystal clear; if you are not wearing a face covering then you are not coming in. Officers will be there to help stores if needed – but only as a last resort, as we simply do not have the resources.”

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