Officers won't be 'doling out fines' if people don't wear masks in shops

14 July 2020, 09:21

Police will be able to issue fines for people not wearing masks in shops
Police will be able to issue fines for people not wearing masks in shops. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The chairman of the Met Police Federation today told LBC that officers won't be "doling out fines" if people refuse to wear masks in shops following new legislation around face coverings in England.

Ken Marsh said the Government's announcement that people will face £100 fines if they don't wear masks in shops will be "impossible" to enforce.

"You're not going to have a police officer on every door," he told LBC, adding the responsibility should be on shopkeepers.

He told LBC's Tom Swarbrick that shopkeepers need to step up to the plate and take some responsibility. "They can quite easily put signs up on their doors 'No mask on, no entry, this is private property'."

Read more: Face coverings: Everything you need to know about new masks rules

Mr Marsh said police had been made the "bad guys and girls" during the pandemic and said there had been "very little consultation with the police" by the Government on the new rules.

"It can't just be the police" who deal with enforcing the Government's new rules regarding masks in shops, he told LBC.

He said fining people would be nigh-on impossible because it is impossible to have a police officer at every shop door and police can't go around the streets chasing reports of people not wearing masks.

He said if a shopkeeper calls the police because someone hasn't got a mask on, shops haven't got the power to detain them so that person can just walk away.

"We're not going to be doling out fines and shops have no power to enforce it or to keep people on premises until police arrive"

"We'll be driving around and around London looking for people who aren't wearing masks, it's absolutely absurd."

The British Retail Consortium earlier welcomed the "clarity" on the use of face coverings in shops in England after days of "mixed messages".

"The clarity we're going to get today for implementation in about 10 days' time is going to give a level of reassurance," chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

"What we saw over the weekend with mixed messages, I think made it really difficult for people to understand what it was they're expected to do.

"Clarity is really important to give people that confidence. It is absolutely true that sales and footfall are returning only very slowly to our high streets and town centres and shopping centres up and down the country."

Environment Secretary George Eustice has defended the delay to ordering the mandatory use of face coverings in shops in England.

He told Sky News: "The evidence, the understanding, has been evolving. So the World Health Organisation changed their guidance back in June and following that the Government changed its guidance and we recommended that people wear face coverings in enclosed spaces when they're out and about.

"We then sharpened that and made it compulsory for public transport in the middle of June and what we've really got here is, as we loosen the lockdown and allow more venues to open, we need to consider the mix of measures we have in place to limit the transmission and control the virus.

"And that's why we're making this next step, which is to say it's mandatory to wear masks in retail environments."

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