REGARDLESS of your opinion on them, from this weekend onwards the public will be required to wear a face covering when going into a shop.
After much debate and speculation, it has been announced that face coverings are to be worn at all times when in all shops across the North from August 1, the day after shielding officially ends for the most vulnerable in our community. While wearing the coverings will be compulsory from Saturday, legal enforcement of the new rule will not come into effect until August 20.
Meanwhile, south of the border facemasks have been compulsory since July 20.
The new measure, aimed at protecting those most at risk from the virus as society fully reopens from lockdown, will bring the North into line with the South and Britain, where shoppers are already required to wear face coverings. It is hoped the new rule will encourage the of face masks in general, as has been seen in the South.
When the Herald recently carried out a readers’ survey to gauge local views on face masks the majority were in favour of the protective measure, however there were some opposing and conflicted views on their use. Health Minister Robin Swann has said he recognises opinion was divided on face coverings but stress all medical and scientific advice was clear on their effectiveness in helping stop the spread of the virus.
“It should not be a surprise to anyone that at times there are different views, both in wider society and around the Executive table, and that compromises are often required,” said Minister Swann. “However, there is a strong consensus that face coverings should be worn in shops and other relevant indoor settings. The key issue here is how best this can be achieved.
“I appreciate the debate over whether and when this should be mandatory has taken up a lot of air time. That should not distract from the responsibility on all of us to cover up every time we go to the shops.”
Posted: 9:01 am July 31, 2020