Four out of ten Brits have witnessed angry rows over face mask rule-breakers

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MASK rage has become the latest scourge of Britain as bus and train passengers clash over new law on face coverings.

Four out of ten people say they have witnessed angry rows over rule-breakers – and in some cases it has exploded into violence.

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Holidaymakers on a Jet2 flight from Stansted to the Spanish isle of Ibiza yesterday, pictured, complained as some fellow passengers repeatedly refused cabin crew requests to wear face coverings.

Our poll confirmed tempers often boil over when people are challenged for failing to cover up.

Eight in ten say they have seen others failing to wear a face covering. And 37 per cent have encountered people become physically aggressive, the survey revealed.

The findings will heap pressure on police and retailers to crackdown on customers who flout the rules, which were extended to shops and supermarkets on Friday.

Supermarket bosses insist it is up to the police to enforce the rules and say staff have been told not to challenge those without masks for fear of violent attacks.

But police say they do not have the resources and say greater responsibility should be on shopkeepers to make sure their customers stay in line.

They have so far refused to enforce the requirement and ministers have warned people should not be “accosted” if they fail to mask up. 

Since face masks became compulsory on public transport last month, barely a third of people – 35 per cent – have witnessed people being stopped by police for failing to cover up.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “This is disappointing but sadly not surprising, given the utter muddle ministers got into over masks.

“This virus exploits ambiguity and we need clear messaging from the government, not Cabinet confusion.”

Wearing a face covering also became compulsory in petrol stations, post offices, banks, shopping centres and bus stations last week – with exemptions only for young kids and people with certain medical conditions.

Some retailers fear that asking shop assistants to challenge non-wearers could lead to further abuse against them.,

Jo Whitfield, of the Co-op, said: “On a daily basis, they face abuse, threatening behaviour and even physical assault.

“Our own figures show that during the Covid crisis such instances have risen and enforcing the wearing of face masks could be another flashpoint that shope workers don’t need.”

The overwhelming majority of people – 88 per cent – say they will comply with the rule and wear a mask when out shopping, our poll found.

One in three people, 33 per cent, say they will be MORE likely to visit a shop now masks are mandatory, while 19 per cent say they will be less likely.

Six out of ten people support the police being given the power of arrest for non-compliance with the rules.

And more than a third are prepared to wear a mask for as long as it takes to defeat coronavirus.

Only six per cent say they are unable to tolerate covering up, but 35 per cent say they would be happy to wear a mask until a vaccine or effective treatment has been found or the virus has been eradicated.

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