Beccles shops say they will turn away customers who refuse to wear masks

The only thing I wish is that this had been done a lot earlier, said Lee Mason of Beccles Books. Pho

The only thing I wish is that this had been done a lot earlier, said Lee Mason of Beccles Books. Photo: Matthew Nixon - Credit: Archant

High street stores in a market town are urging customers to wear face masks when new government regulations come into effect this week.

Beccles town focus. Blyburgate Antiques.

Beccles town focus. Blyburgate Antiques. - Credit: Archant © 2010

Businesses in Beccles say they have already seen between 50 and 70pc of their customers wearing face masks since being allowed to reopen.

But from Friday, July 24, people will need to wear a face covering, as is already mandatory on public transport, in shops and supermarkets.

“The only thing I wish is that this had been done a lot earlier,” said Lee Mason of Beccles Books. “People should have been wearing them from as soon as shops opened, evidence showed if even a small amount of people wore masks from the outset, the spread of the virus would slow.”

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Face coverings are not designed to protect the wearer from coronavirus, but to protect others by catching droplets which might otherwise become airborne.

With further guidance to be released by the government late on Thursday, July 23, business owners in Beccles have already put into place new measures for the guidelines on face masks.

While Mr Mason at Beccles Books said he would not turn away a customer without a face mask, he made clear: “The guidance currently says the onus isn’t on shopkeepers to enforce the guidelines, but I would remind someone without one of the guidelines and offer them a disposable mask.”

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However other shops in the town centre have said customers who don’t follow the guidelines won’t be allowed in.

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Kate Lee, owner of Blyburgate Antiques, said: “I think the policy is a good idea, and it will give people who aren’t coming out at the moment more confidence. I will turn people away if they absolutely refuse to wear a mask, but can offer a disposable one to anyone who has simply forgotten.”

Sue Taylor, at Beccles Sewing and Handicraft, added: “If someone didn’t want to wear one - as some people are really against it - then we would have to serve them outside.

“You do get some people who are offensive, or rude to our staff as they have to wait to come in. Unfortunately that’s the way of the world at the moment.”