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‘It’s the law’ - Shop owners say they will turn away customers who don’t wear masks

PUBLISHED: 12:08 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:08 24 July 2020

The Original Factory Shop in Fakenham. Picture: Down At The Social

The Original Factory Shop in Fakenham. Picture: Down At The Social

Down At The Social

Shop owners in a market town say they will turn away customers who refuse to wear masks as new government rules are introduced.

Geoff Saunders, owner of Paperklip . Picture: Aaron McMillanGeoff Saunders, owner of Paperklip . Picture: Aaron McMillan

From today, all retail shops across England wearing a face covering will become mandatory, with anyone failing to comply facing fines of up to £100.

When the government announced the measure, they said police would be expected to take on the task of enforcement.

However, in Norfolk, it appears likely it will be down to shop owners, after Andy Symonds, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, said its members do not have the capacity to do this.

In Fakenham, shop owners face the prospect of uncomfortable conversations with shoppers, but one high street chain has said it won’t be enforcing masks.

Paperklip in Fakenham. Picture: Aaron McMillanPaperklip in Fakenham. Picture: Aaron McMillan

A spokesperson for The Original Factory shop said it “will have signs up and prefer them to wear masks, but we cannot enforce it, because we don’t have the right to ask why they aren’t wearing one.”

The shop hopes that people will wear a mask for their own safety, and confirmed that people are coming into the shop wearing the coverings.

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This is the exact opposite for Geoff Saunders, owner of Paperklip on Bridge Street.

Kay Howe, Customers Assistant at Get Smart, said that around “80% of our customers are already wearing face masks. Picture: Get SmartKay Howe, Customers Assistant at Get Smart, said that around “80% of our customers are already wearing face masks. Picture: Get Smart

Mr Saunders said he will refuse entry to anyone not wearing a face covering at his stationery shop, telling them it’s the rules, he said: “That’s the law, I didn’t set it, the government did. I have to think of safety for myself and other people.

“We all have to put up with this thing, it’s a whole new way of life. We need to get on with it.”

He thinks it will be fine as he confirmed that customers were already wearing masks ahead of Friday.

A women’s clothing shop echoed Mr Saunders’ claim about customers already wearing face masks.

Kay Howe, Customers Assistant at Get Smart, said that around “80% of our customers are already wearing face masks.”

It will be enforcing the rule to a high standard, according to Mrs Howe, stating that “it’s got to be done, it’s the law that they have to wear one.”

However, there is still uncertainty around what to do if someone is not following the rules.

She said: “If they get verbal what do we do? Well, do you call the police? I don’t know until we come across it.”


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