Stick with it Suffolk – wear a face covering
Suffolk residents are being asked to keep looking out for each other and combat Covid-19 by wearing a face covering in shops from tomorrow (Friday 24 July).
From Friday 24 July the law will change to make it mandatory, in the majority of cases, to wear a face covering in shops – as it is currently when using public transport.
Businesses, towns and spaces in Suffolk have been getting extra help to make them safer and reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading as lockdown measures are eased. Support to make this happen comes from the ‘Safer Places’ group, part of the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which is made up of Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services.
This has included supporting businesses to meet this national guidance, allowing them to trade safely and keep their customers safe. Councils and public services have been engaging with local organisations, communities and councillors and organisations to look at tailored solutions for their particular areas to help with issues such as social distancing.
Under the new national changes, measures can be taken if people do not comply with this law on face coverings:
- Shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage compliance with the law and can refuse entry
- Transport operators can deny service or direct someone to wear a face covering
In both cases, if necessary, the police have the powers to enforce these measures, including through issuing a fine of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days).
People are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Businesses should be aware that there will be some people who will be exempt from wearing face coverings, including children under the age of 11. People with exemptions may have a hidden disability making it difficult for them to wear one and have general difficulties with daily life which others may not readily recognise or identify as a disability.
The advice to businesses, if you are unsure, is to be friendly and affable when asking the person and check:
- do they carry an exemption card such as from KeepSafe
- are they wearing a Hidden Disability Sunflower
Businesses are also asked to not make assumptions if someone is not wearing a face covering, as that person may feel quite vulnerable and uncomfortable - their hidden disability may include issues with communication.
David Collinson, the lead for the Safer Places group, said:
“The safety of our communities is the most important thing as our high streets and businesses recover.
“Ultimately, businesses are responsible to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, but through the Safer Places group, we’re doing everything we can to support them and help reduce the risk of infection.
“But people have a role too and it is vital they follow the face covering guidance that comes into force on Friday. By sticking with the guidance and helping each other to keep safe you will stop the spread of Covid-19 and help local businesses stay open, serving their communities.”
Businesses and residents can find out more from their local councils or the latest guidance and updates on the government’s website.
For up-to-date guidance on exemptions to wearing a face covering where they are mandated, see the government’s website.