Police should be able to enforce customers wearing face masks in shops if they are made mandatory here, it’s been claimed.
While shops in England and Scotland have now made it mandatory for people to wear masks in shops, the Executive has yet to bring in similar legislation.
But there should now be clarity if the legislation is to be brought in, and staff in shops here should not be required to enforce such rules, with police holding responsibility, according to Retail NI chief executive, Glyn Roberts.
“With England and Scotland making it mandatory to wear face masks in shops, we need the Executive to clarify if it plans to do the same,” he says.
“Retailers in Northern Ireland have always had the safety of their staff and customers as their top priority and will always follow the science to ensure they play their role in avoiding a second wave.
“Should the Executive introduce the compulsory wearing of face masks, then retailers and their staff should not be enforcing nor policing such rules. We have already had incidents of shop staff trying to police social distancing being abused by a small minority of customers.
“If it is introduced in Northern Ireland, like England, the police should enforce the regulations.
“Retail NI members have spent huge sums of money installing perspex screens and adapting their stores to comply with social distancing regulations. They fully appreciate their role in combating Covid-19 and will continue to do so in the months ahead."
In England, there will be a maximum fine of £100 for non-compliance of wearing a face mask in shops, as of July 24.
Wearing face masks on public transport has also become mandatory in Northern Ireland, and Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has warned police could be called for those not wearing coverings.