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Coronavirus: Belfast shoppers give their views on mandatory face coverings

With face coverings becoming mandatory in shops across Northern Ireland from Monday, we took to the streets of Belfast to gauge to public's reaction to the move.

While some people have been wearing coverings out and about voluntarily since the outbreak began, many high streets stores are now thronged with a sea of bare faces.

From scepticism of their effectiveness to comfort issues, the reasons for opting not to wear a covering vary.

In Belfast city centre, Ashleigh Thompson questioned the timing of the Executive's decision.

"I just don't see what the difference is between today and Monday - why on Monday but not three weeks ago?" she said.

John Cliffe added: "I don't think it's much of a difference because if there was supposed to be [the compulsory wearing of masks] it should have been from the start"

For Mark Munce, the comfortableness of wearing a face covering is an issue.

"I would say the heat especially is one thing, the fact that you can get really warm, especially indoors," he said.

This view was echoed by Eileen O'Halloran, who stated: "I don't want to wear one, I feel very claustrophobic with it on. They say it doesn't do you any harm, but I just don't feel right [wearing one]."

Ms O'Halloran added that, while she will wear a face covering in shops on Monday, it will be coming "straight off" as soon as she leaves the premises.

Susan Robinson said wearing a covering or mask does not bother her "in the slightest", arguing they should have been mandatory since the beginning of the pandemic. She said, however, that she will not be wearing one until they are compulsory next week.

"It's not compulsory here that you have to wear one. In America you have to wear one, in Italy you have to wear one... but it's not about it me, it's about the next person," she said.

Belfast Telegraph