Shopkeepers face up to challenges raised by facemask rules

Business owners have spoken out about their feelings on enforcing customers to wear facemasks.

Hermanpreet Kaur at Birchwood Store in Wolverhampton
Hermanpreet Kaur at Birchwood Store in Wolverhampton

It has been compulsory to wear masks in shops since July 24.

Despite the additional challenges faced by store owners, Guljinder Singh Bhandal, owner of Birchwood Store, on Wolverhampton Road, says it has mostly been a 'positive experience'.

Mr Singh Bhandal said:"Normally, most of the time, the people that come in are wearing a mask, but the ones who forget, we tell them to wear a mask next time.

"It hasn't really affected the business if I'm honest. We have been busy pretty much all the way through lockdown and, in the last three weeks, it's been pretty much the same.

"When the customers come in here, they are already wearing a mask, and there have only been a few instances where people have argued about it, mostly younger people who don't understand it.

"It's mostly been a positive experience though and I think, going forward, people are going to continue wearing masks when they go out, so we will make the best of it."

Those who fail to wear a mask could be fined up to £100, or £50 if they pay within 14 days, however, the rules are being enforced by the police, not shop workers, and only ''as a last resort''.

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Mark Hodgkiss, owner of Mode Menswear in Tettenhall, added: "As a business we have taken the decision to not challenge any customer that visits that is not wearing a face covering as we feel there are many personal reasons they may not be wearing one.

"We also do not want to put our team in uncomfortable or potentially challenging situations.

"We of course encourage use of our sanitiser station and also provide face masks and visors for our staff as safety is our top priority."

Although traders are now seeing a boost in sales above pre-lockdown levels, there is a belief that the rule was enforced too late.

Mr Hodgkiss added: "Personally I feel the mask rule should have been in force since shops reopened rather than six weeks after we reopened, as it feels like too little too late.

"That said we know we all need to play our part in combatting Covid and will assist in doing whatever is required.

"I think customers are slowing getting used to the idea of shopping in a face covering.

"Hopefully we are getting through this tough situation and in the near future the rules on face covers can be relaxed."

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