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Covid UK: Maskless users of public transport ‘should expect fines’

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People refusing to wear masks on public transport should ‘expect a fine’, a police chief warned tonight as he warned officers would no longer ‘waste time’ trying to reason with people.  

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt blasted rulebreakers who have ‘no regard’ for the safety of others as he outlined some of the situations cops have had to deal with.

He told the Downing Street press conference that forces across the whole of the UK have so far issued almost 45,000 fixed penalty notices to people breaking lockdown rules.

The UK today confirmed another 1,243 deaths from coronavirus and 45,533 positive tests as Boris Johnson gathered his Cabinet to discuss tightening England’s lockdown. 

Mr Hewitt outlined a series of recent examples of ‘irresponsible behaviour’ – including a boat party for paying guests in Hertfordshire with more than 40 people, a Surrey house party whose host tried to claim it was a business event and a minibus full of people from different households travelling from Cheltenham into Wales for a walk.

He said: ‘Organising parties or other large gatherings is dangerous, selfish and totally irresponsible in light of the current threat that we face. Organisers will be fined. But so too will the people who choose to attend.

‘Not wearing a face covering on a bus or a train is dangerous. It risks the lives of other travellers including those critical workers who must continue to use public transport to do their important work. So on those systems, unless you are exempt, you can expect a fine.’

National Police Chiefs' Council chairman Martin Hewitt blasted rulebreakers who have 'no regard' for the safety of others as he outlined some of the situations cops have had to face

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt blasted rulebreakers who have ‘no regard’ for the safety of others as he outlined some of the situations cops have had to face

Standing alongside him the Home Secretary said 'far too often' police officers were risking their health and lives by 'coming into close contact with people, including those who deny the very existence of coronavirus, to keep us all safe'.

Standing alongside him the Home Secretary said ‘far too often’ police officers were risking their health and lives by ‘coming into close contact with people, including those who deny the very existence of coronavirus, to keep us all safe’.

 

He urged peopleto take personal responsibility for their actions, adding: ‘We will talk to people and we will explain. But I think the rules are clear enough for people to understand, we are 10 months into this process.’ 

Standing alongside him the Home Secretary said ‘far too often’ police officers were risking their health and lives by ‘coming into close contact with people, including those who deny the very existence of coronavirus, to keep us all safe’.

She added: ‘We are now at a critical stage in our battle against this virus.

‘To protect those that you care about, and the capacity of our hospitals to protect us all, please stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.’

Ms Patel insisted the coronavirus rules that people need to follow are clear.

Asked why the regulations were not as tough as the first lockdown despite the parlous situation faced by the NHS, she told a Downing Street press conference: ‘The rules are actually very simple and clear.

‘We are meant to stay at home and only leave home for a very, very limited number of reasons.’

Outdoor recreation was permitted ‘in a very, very restricted and limited way, staying local’.

She added that police had set out ‘the type of egregious breaches that we will clamp down on’.

What supermarket regulations are now in place and when did they change?

Sainsbury’s

Facemasks are mandatory in store, unless the shopper is medically exempt from wearing them. Guards at the entrance enforce the rules. 

There are also plastic safety screens, hand sanitiser and signs urging customers to socially distance.

The store also has specially-timed slots for elderly or vulnerable people to buy their goods.

Today the store told MailOnline insisted that guards had been present throughout the pandemic but more had been sent to stores that ‘needed extra help’. 

Morrisons 

Morrisons have told guards to refuse entry to shoppers who have no medical reason for not wearing a facemask. 

Some stores have had guards throughout the pandemic but these were rolled out to all locations as of today.  

They also have a specialist next-day delivery service for those who cannot get to a shop in person.

The shop also has an NHS priority time the key workers can go in to buy food. 

Tesco 

Tesco today joined Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in banning customers without masks and bringing in security guards to enforce the rules. 

Today the store told MailOnline security guards had attended stores throughout the pandemic but more had now been recruited. 

It also has priority hours for key workers as well as limits on some items for delivery.

Marks & Spencer

M&S has hand sanitising as well as one-way systems in place and a facemask rule.

Larger shops have restricted the purchase of non-essential goods.

There is also a booking process to let people reserve a slot instore to go shopping. MailOnline has contacted M&S, and all the stores listed below, for their current arrangements as well as if and when they changed. 

Asda

Asda, like others, has a rule for facemasks unless there is a medical exemption announced by the customer.

They also have an app that lets shoppers wait in a digital queue in their cars for a slot to go instore. 

Asda also say they have put a protective film on basket and trolley grips that kills bacteria.

Waitrose

Waitrose says facemasks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one.

Marshals are at the entrances to its stores to check people are wearing mask and are shopping alone.

Floor-markers help customers to follow social distancing while people are asked to keep two metres in queues. 

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Earlier Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick today insisted officers would come to the aid of supermarket staff if shoppers became ‘aggressive’ after being told to wear a mask after police warned they did not have enough manpower to enforce the rules. 

Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and M&S have now reintroduced bouncers at the door in all stores to ensure customers are wearing face coverings and socially distancing. 

Meanwhile, John Lewis today announced it would scrap click and collect for new orders from tomorrow, although it will still run at Waitrose for food orders.  

West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth this morning warned that there were not enough officers to ‘stand in every store’ and it was up to the supermarkets themselves to enforce the rules. 

But speaking later, Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist supermarket staff if customers became ‘obstructive and aggressive’ when they were told they must wear a face covering. She also said it was ‘preposterous’ people couldn’t know rules as vowed to continue wider crackdown.

Bouncers were in place at the start of the first lockdown in March to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, but began to vanish as the threat posed by Covid-19 waned during the summer, leading to an increasingly ‘lax’ attitude from shoppers who were increasingly seen maskless. 

But as alarm bells were sounded by Downing Street and scientists warned that shops were contributing to the rise in cases, the Big Four supermarkets today returned to the previous, stricter arrangement.     

Mr Booth said officers would only intervene if ‘other offences were committed’, such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive. 

‘If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

It came as Boris Johnson gathered his Cabinet after warning he could further strengthen the restrictions if people continued flouting the law – as ministers defended his controversial decision to go cycling in the Olympic Park, seven miles from Downing Street. 

Meanwhile, today’s mask crackdown ran into problems from day one today as some shoppers continued refusing to follow the rules, despite the vast majority complying with them. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted today: ‘Don’t get caught out when you’re at the supermarket — remember always to take a face mask with you when you’re leaving your home. Wear it on the way to the shop and in the queue as well. We need to be doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.’

Shoppers arriving at Morrisons in Peckham, south London were greeted by a security guard instructing them to put on their masks or they would not be allowed in.

One woman who came without her mask was warned that if she did not put it on, she would not be allowed to continue with her shop.

The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot. I’ve come into the supermarket lots of times before and not put it on, but I think it’s a good thing that they are enforcing this.’

But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment.’

As Gladys shopped in the store, she was not challenged about how she was wearing her mask.  

Shoppers were pictured without face masks today at a series of supermarkets, including Asda, Morrisons and Tesco in London, Leeds and Swindon. 

Supermarkets may be the most common place where people in England are exposed to the coronavirus, official data suggests. 

A maskless shopper seen today in a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys, said: 'I had a mask with me but simply forgot'

A maskless shopper seen today in a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys, said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot’

A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask

A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask (left) and another at an Asda in Swindon (right). It is not clear if the customers pictured have valid medical exemptions

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon. It is not clear if the customer on the pictured had a medical exemption

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon. There are various exemptions from having to wear a face mask – it is unclear if any of these apply to the customer seen on the left 

A Morrisons customer posted on social media to complain about being allowed into a store in Colwyn Bay for failing to wear a mask

A customer leaving a store in London

A Morrisons customer posted on social media to complain about being allowed into a store in Colwyn Bay for failing to wear a mask (left). Pictured on the right is a customer leaving a store in London 

Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth

Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth 

A security guard on duty today at the entrance to a Morrisons in Leeds, where most customers were following the face mask guidance

A security guard on duty today at the entrance to a Morrisons in Leeds, where most customers were following the face mask guidance 

A security guard speaks to customers entering a Sainsbury's store in Swindon today on day one of the new mask crackdown

A security guard speaks to customers entering a Sainsbury’s store in Swindon today on day one of the new mask crackdown 

Sainsbury's CEO Simon Roberts sent this email to all customers this morning to inform them about the new enforcement measures

Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts sent this email to all customers this morning to inform them about the new enforcement measures 

When asked about the crackdown, a shopper at a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London said: ‘It’s about time. 

‘A lot of people are going to supermarkets and simply ignoring the rules.

‘I don’t know why it’s taken Morrisons this long to start enforcing this rule.

‘We’re living in very difficult times and we’ve all got to pull together to beat this virus.’

A second, who refused to give her name, did not have a mask covering her nose. She said: ‘What’s the problem I’ve got a mask on haven’t I?

‘I find it difficult to breathe when I’ve got a mask on and sometimes get a rash.

‘I think it’s good to enforce the rule but they’ve got to understand that for some people, masks are very uncomfortable.’

The store’s security guard, who did not want to give his name, said: ‘We’ve been given strict instructions about masks. If you’ve not got one on, you’re not getting in. It’s as simple as that.’

The security guard added that until today, they had not been challenging customers who were without masks.

He added: ‘It wasn’t our responsibility to enforce it and we were told to call the police, which we never did. 

‘This is going to create more problems for us because my concern is that some people will not want to wear a mask and will fight with us over it. So far, we’ve not had many problems.’

Despite several instances of rule-breaking, most shoppers at supermarkets visited by MailOnline today were wearing masks. 

During the first shutdown, supermarkets installed bouncers at store entrances to challenge rule-breakers and created in-store one-way systems to help people socially distance. 

MailOnline has asked all major supermarkets if they plan to follow Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in reintroducing bouncers.  

Britain’s policing minister Kit Malthouse this morning said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops, but measures imposed and enforced by owners would be effective in most cases.

Brian Booth, chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said officers would only intervene if ‘other offences were committed’, such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive. 

‘If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

Mr Booth also criticised the current regulations as ‘woolly’, saying they left too many ‘loose ends’ which ‘cheesed-off’ officers had to interpret for themselves. 

He suggested that the much-publicised fining of two walkers in Derbyshire was correct according to the guidance. 

‘An officer issued a ticket in the spirit it was written,’ told the Today programme. Normally in law, when you have a new law it is disputed and goes to the court where it is argued and becomes case law. 

‘But we don’t have time for that, so what we need is a sound basis in law and we need it now, rather than leaving loose ends.’ 

It came as Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said it was ‘preposterous’ that people would not know the Covid rules, and vowed to continue fining lawbreakers.

Writing in the Times today, Dame Cressida said: ‘It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. 

‘We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.

‘We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.’ 

Ms Dick said today that police will move ‘swiftly’ to fine people who blatantly ignore coronavirus lockdown rules and said officers in London had issued more than 300 fixed penalty notices in the space of 24 hours for ‘flagrant’ violations of the regulations.

Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist supermarket staff if customers became ‘obstructive and aggressive’ when they were told they must wear a face covering. 

And in a veiled criticism of the PM’s Olympic Park bike ride Dame Cressida Dick said: ‘For me, a reasonable interpretation of that is that if you can go for your exercise from your front door and come back to your front door’, adding: ‘The public are looking to all of us as role models’. 

Ministers have warned that tougher lockdown rules could be introduced to stem a rise in cases.  

Britons can go on 70 mile bike rides but only sit on park benches ‘for a short pause’, should think carefully about meeting a friend for a coffee while walking and must never go to the supermarket without a mask, they said today.

Mr Malthouse also accused the public of ‘searching for the loopholes in the law’ by flouting the third national lockdown – comparing it to pubs serving scotch eggs to stay open last year – and insisted that it is the police’s job to scrutinise where people are going and who they are meeting outdoors.

Amid widespread confusion about whether people are allowed to sit on park benches during their daily exercise, No10 sources also told MailOnline a ‘short pause’ during the course of exercise would be ‘reasonable’. However, they stressed it would be unlawful to go out ‘just to sit in public’. 

DailyMail Online


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