POLICE won’t be called if people refuse to wear face masks, a Government minister admitted this morning.
Care Minister Helen Whately said it would be “inappropriate” for police to be called and the Government strategy would rely on the common sense of Brits to protect each other.
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Ms Whately told BBC Breakfast this morning: “We are expecting the vast majority of people to wear face masks.
“As we have seen the vast majority of people have followed the guidance, taken the steps on reducing movement and social distancing.”
Masks are compulsory in shops from today – and people in England can be fined £100 for not wearing one.
Masks were made mandatory in Scotland two weeks ago but only one person has been fined so far.
Ms Whately said while the Government will encourage people to wear one police won’t be sent in where people refuse to comply.
She said: “What we will see, as you see on public transport for instance where there are signs around encouraging you to wear a face mask, saying you should be wearing one.
“There is the option for police, but I really don’t think we will need to go down that line.
“People do take this very seriously, they don’t want to see the Covid rate go up again.
“(We’re) not expecting the police to to be called every time someone isn’t wearing a face mask, that would be inappropriate.”
Despite face masks being made mandatory today, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab posted a snap of himself at a foodbank not covering up.
Great to join Jenny French and her formidable team of local East Elmbridge Foodbank volunteers, alongside @SCCLeader Tim Oliver, in their new Molesey base. They’re doing an amazing job supporting the vulnerable during COVID. pic.twitter.com/nFKHpAsmyA
Boss of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter said it would be impossible for cops to shoulder the responsibility to force people to wear masks.
He said: “We just don’t have the capacity. We simply can’t do it.
“Not to the level that people expect, which is for us to be almost in every high street and every store ensuring people are wearing a face covering.
“That’s why I’m so very clear that the retailers and the people who are operating these stores or businesses, they also have a responsibility to educate the public because this is all very new.
“The public – some people are scared, some people genuinely don’t know what’s expected of them, so it’s about us all, a combined effort in educating people and enforcement will be absolutely the last resort.”
He said if people refused to leave a store over wearing a mask and became aggressive then “of course” police would respond – but it would be impossible to police people walking up and down high streets.
The new policy on masks has sparked backlash from some people in England – with a group of anti-mask campaigners gathering in London over the weekend.
One protestor wore a g-string which covered her nose and mouth over her face to try and prove a point that masks should not be made compulsory.
Please wear a mask pic.twitter.com/GkYslOK4UK