Police to patrol IKEA and supermarkets to ‘shame’ shoppers into wearing masks
Shoppers in IKEA and supermarkets are to be "shamed" into wearing face masks by community police officers.
Some supermarkets and stores will be patrolled in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, reports Manchester Evening News.
From Thursday, officers will be seen in major supermarkets in Tameside, Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne’s IKEA to speak to people seen without a face covering.
Superintendent Jane Higham said the move to send out police community support officers (PCSOs) is to encourage members of the public to follow rules.
She added that the message across the entire Greater Manchester Police force was to take a more ‘enforcement angle’ when needed.
Speaking at a meeting of the health and wellbeing board on Thursday, Supt Higham said that ‘virtually all’ of her neighbourhood teams are now functioning as ‘Covid resources’ in the community.
And she said that police and community officers are working 12 hour shifts around the clock.
“Today we’ve started our plans around large retail premises, including the supermarkets and IKEA where my PCSOs are going to each of these places,” she said.
“There are letters being prepared by the local authority compliance cell which are quite strongly worded letters to all our retail premises to encourage them to speak to members of the public who are not wearing face masks.
“Our officers will be there to engage and explain and where people are becoming extremely difficult – and there are occasions when that happens – we will go to an enforcement angle.
“I think it’s a really tricky one this with the face coverings because it’s a guidance rather than actually a piece of legislation, that’s why we’re getting our officers to go in there to actively encourage that and shame people almost into compliance around that.
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“I’ve seen it in local shops where I live that people are flouting the face masks.
“But I think it’s a public obligation and that’s what we’re going to try and get people to do it by being very present there and by stopping people and asking them those questions.”
The meeting was told that four legal letters have been prepared for some large retail outlets which needed to be reminded ‘quite strongly about their responsibilities as business owners’.
The letters would serve as a primary warning, but the council would progress through to a direction to close if they gathered enough evidence of breaches.
Tameside council leader Brenda Warrington added: “I’ve been hearing quite a lot of people actually have expressed concern that some of the larger stores, the bigger supermarkets do not seem to be bothering to even try to enforce the wearing of face coverings and we’re getting a little bit of an apathy situation developing and of course that is extremely dangerous as far as I can see.”
Supt Higham told members of the panel that they had also considered closing two pubs down in the borough yesterday for breaching Covid-19 guidelines.
One venue closed voluntarily, but a ‘strongly worded letter’ and a fixed penalty notice was issued to a pub which had allowed a large gathering after the funeral of the licencee’s brother.
“It’s quite sad some of these occasions and we all understand how difficult it is for people but we’re all in the same boat and we’ve all got to follow the rules,” Supt Higham said.
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