New regulations which come into force on Friday 24th July will mean that it is compulsory for shoppers in Lytham St. Anne’s to wear a face mask whilst in shops and stores. However, not only shop owners and retailers but also police forces have today expressed deep concerns about the government’s new rules making face masks obligatory in all stores from next week.

Retailers have been told to advise customers to wear masks but staff will not be expected to enforce the law. Instead, police will be given the powers to hand out the fines of up to £100. Young children or those with certain disabilities will be exempt from the new regulations.

Representing shop and store owners, the Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson said today on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ‘more clarity was needed on how to protect shop workers from aggressive customers refusing to wear face masks.’

Representing the police, the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Ken Marsh, said on the same morning programme, ‘It will be nigh-on impossible for enforcement because you won’t have a police officer on every shop door because there isn’t enough of us. If a shopkeeper calls the police because someone hasn’t got a mask on, they haven’t got the power to detain them so that person can just walk away.’

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether shop workers will have to wear masks under the new legislation. Helen Dickinson told the Today programme: ‘Our expectation is that shop staff would not need to wear a mask behind a screen. The whole point about face coverings is that it’s another level of mitigation – we have social distancing, the importance of hygiene measures. Within a retail environment there is a huge amount of time, resource and investment that has gone into putting the infrastructure like those Perspex screens in place and it’s also quite different for a retail colleague to be required to wear a mask for eight hours a day. The job of the retailer is to encourage compliance but where the boundary gets more difficult for people who work in retail is that they are often on the frontline of that very small minority of people who don’t want to comply with the rules or become verbally aggressive to the shop worker.’