POLICING the wearing of face masks in shops is “simply far too vast a job for the police to be doing,” Gloucestershire Police Federation has said.
From 24 July it became compulsory to wear a face mask or covering inside shops in England, with a fine of up to £100 for those who do not comply.
But Gloucestershire Police Federation Chairman Steve James (pictured) said: “We won’t be sending out officers patrolling the aisles of Morrisons or Topshop or wherever. We don’t have the staff to do that. There are better things to do.”
Steve said he believed that individuals and shop owners should take responsibility. He said: “People should be taking their own personal responsibility in doing that, and shops and transport providers and everyone else should be taking that action themselves.
“Have someone on the door of your shop. If someone wants to come in without a mask, just don’t let them in. You’re perfectly entitled to. Everybody knows that those are the rules. No one’s got an excuse for not doing it.”
Steve admitted that shops had no powers to enforce the wearing of face masks, but that they had a “primary role to play” by restricting access if people weren’t wearing them.
He said: “No mask, no shopping. There’s a social and corporate responsibility that comes with being a high-street shop or any sort of retailer, and we would expect those businesses to take that responsibility, both for society and their individual customers. I don’t think there’s a single company out there that wants to see their customers start dropping dead.”
Steve added that if customers became disruptive and violent then the police would deal with the situation.
His message to members of the public who didn’t want to wear a mask was: “It’s not ideal but it’s not difficult, it’s not massively uncomfortable. If you’ve got no medical reason why you can’t wear one, wear the mask. It could save somebody’s life.”