Shoppers speak of their frustration and fear as mask rules are flouted

Phone, wallet, keys and your face covering – while it’s become the new normal for some people, others are continuing to flout the rules.

Shoppers on Dudley Street, Wolverhampton.
Shoppers on Dudley Street, Wolverhampton.

Health officials have regularly repeated that people should “play their part” and wear a mask to help protect others from coronavirus.

And with much of the West Midlands now under local lockdown measures, the need is greater than ever.

Shoppers in Dudley Street, Wolverhampton, wearing face masks.

The rules apply to a range of situations, but mainly to the use of public transport and going shopping – where the mask is mandatory.

But concerns have been raised by shoppers over people not wearing a mask, with many saying they feel “unsafe” because of a selfish few.

While some may have a medical reason not to wear a mask, others simply flout the rules in the knowledge they are unlikely to be challenged or punished.

Shoppers in Wolverhampton spoke of their concerns over wearing a mask.

Many don’t like masking up, but realise the importance of doing so, while others are still confused over the rules.

Sandra Barker, 66, from Perton, who was out shopping with her 73-year-old husband Ron, said: “I’ll be honest, I hate wearing these masks and I hate the sight of them.

Bob Barker and Sandra Barker, both of Perton.

“I just think they’re uncomfortable, and it also seems to me that a lot of people aren’t even wearing them, which I just think isn’t right as we’ve all been told to wear them.

“We’ve been in Shoezone and not a lot of people are not even wearing them and I thought you were supposed to be wearing them, especially in the Mander Centre. I don’t think staff are being strict enough about it and I think it’s just as bad on the buses.

Sandra Barker of Perton

“The guidance is just as confusing and I think that people aren’t being given clear enough instructions about it. The police aren’t being strict enough either and I think the view seems to be for people to make up their own mind.”

Jill Hepwood, 69, from Tettenhall, who was out shopping with 38-year-old daughter Gemma, said “I think the wearing of masks is a good idea and I really think it makes sense to me, especially when you’re close to people.

Jill Hepwood, and daughter Gemma Hepwood, both of Tettenahall

"I wear a mask because I have a cough anyway, so I won’t feel embarrassed if I cough now and I’m near other people.

“It’s the first time I’ve been to town since January, but I’ve been in supermarkets and people seem to be complying more with the rules there.

Jill Hepwood from Tettenhall

“I do feel safer in shops because people are wearing masks as it doesn’t necessarily protect you, but it protects other people and it’s a duty to me for you to protect other people.”

In the market town of Newport, near Stafford, shopkeepers say members of the public have on general been understanding.

Proprietor of shoe shop Toggs and Cloggs Anthea Gould said: “We’ve had no issues except giving the odd reminder if a customer forgot. They just put it on because they have it on them. I think Covid practices in Newport have been very good compared to other places that I’ve heard about.”

Freddy Holland, 29, said: “I absolutely don’t mind wearing a mask. It is frustrating when I see other people not wearing them in the shops. I wouldn’t go as far as to challenge someone though if they weren’t wearing any.”

Freddy Holland from Newport

Retired cleaner Trish Watson, 67, of Newport, said: “On the whole it’s not going too badly. All we have to do it follow the guidelines and keep each other safe.”

Newport mother Heather Marsden, 35, said: “We haven’t had any issues. The main thing for me is trying to remember to carry one when I go out, so I’ve put masks in all my bags and in the pram so I’ve always got some.”

Police in Staffordshire say they have only “rarely” had to use enforcement against people wearing masks as they urged people to remain vigilant – and to follow the rules.

Shoppers on Dudley Street, Wolverhampton

A spokesman for the force said: “We are working with stores and supermarkets to engage with and encourage people to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets. Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown the vast majority of people in Staffordshire have followed the government guidelines which were designed to stop the spread of Covid-19, and save lives and officers have only rarely had to use enforcement.

“We hope that people will continue to take personal responsibility with these regulations. Officers will not be patrolling shops but will be working closely with local retailers to ensure the regulations are followed.”

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