POLICE have urged the public to be “socially responsible” and follow new guidelines for wearing masks in shops.
On Friday, July 24 changes to the government’s COVID-19 legislation made it mandatory to wear a face covering in all shops and retail premises.
The measure will see all shops able to prevent entry to the premises to anyone not wearing a face covering. It will also see police given powers to issue a fixed a penalty notice to anyone refusing to comply with the legislation, although Dorset Police will be adopting an educate, engage and encourage approach with enforcement as a final option.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said: “The government has announced the change to COVID-19 legislation in order to further protect the public and those working in retail premises from being exposed to the pandemic.
“As lockdown measures ease there is a need for us all to be socially responsible. Everyone must play their part in reducing COVID risk and protecting each other as much as possible.
“Detailed guidance concerning the legislation is still to come, but Dorset Police will be adopting an approach similar to that already seen with face coverings being mandatory for those travelling on public transport.
“We will be engaging and educating the public and only using enforcement as a final option. I prefer to see engagement with the public rather than Dorset Police officers having to give a £100 fixed penalty notice to any member of the public for refusing to comply with the legislation.
“My hope is that everyone will be socially responsible and play their part in keeping our residents and many tourists in our region safe.”
Dorset Police has been talking to businesses and retailers throughout the last week to ensure support is given to the economy in the region as it continues to re-open following lockdown.
Visitor numbers across the region are seeing considerable increases as the county’s shops and hospitality industry re-open.
ACC de Reya added: “We must support our economy as it looks to restart and come together as communities at a critically important time for the tourist industry.
“But that needs to be done safely. Many of our businesses, particularly those in retail and hospitality, have taken extraordinary measures to increase safety to the public, wearing a face covering is the next step to reducing risk.
“COVID has not gone away and the responsibility for wearing a face covering sits with an individual.
“We know shops have already been managing customers effectively, so we hope everyone will adapt to the new measure and play their part in a creating a safer county for residents and tourists alike.”