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This is how shopping centres including Bluewater, Westwood Cross and The Mall in Maidstone are making sure shoppers wear masks

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In a move to stop people from spreading coronavirus, new laws will come in force on Friday making everyone wear a face mask while shopping.

Police forces have been given the power to fine people up to £100 if they are caught without one.

From Friday everyone has to wear masks while shopping
From Friday everyone has to wear masks while shopping

People have had to wear one while using public transport for a month but the rule for shoppers was announced only last week.

Ahead of the change, we've asked Kent shopping centres what they plan on doing to enforce the new rules.

Bluewater, Greenhithe

Bluewater senior centre director Robert Goodman
Bluewater senior centre director Robert Goodman

The centre has been praised for the way it reopened after lockdown measures were lifted for non-essential shops.

One way systems are policed by staff to ensire social distancing is maintained.

On the new guidelines, Robert Goodman, senior centre director at Bluewater, said: “The safety of our staff and guests is our number one priority and we continue to be guided by government advice. Guests will be required to wear face coverings in shops, and are strongly encouraged to wear one in all public places.”

Westwood Cross Shopping Centre, Broadstairs

A one-way system has been put in place at Westwood Cross
A one-way system has been put in place at Westwood Cross

People flocked to the centre when all non-essential stores reopened last month with social distancing measures in place.

Although it is an external shopping centre, visitors will be encouraged to wear masks when entering stores.

Francesca Donovan, centre manager at Westwood Cross, said: “Visitors to Westwood Cross Shopping Centre enjoy our outdoor spaces and many of them already wear masks in the shops and on the mall.

“We will encourage guests to wear masks throughout the centre however, in line with Government guidelines, it will only be mandatory for people to wear a face covering when entering one of the shops.

"Guests to our shopping centre have appreciated the many safety measures we have in place including social distancing markers, one-way systems, signage and antibacterial hand gel stations throughout the mall and at our bus hub.

North Thanet MP Roger Gale shares his views on the new laws

“We have also stationed marshals at our lift and public facilities at which there is also distancing measures in place. I am confident people will continue to follow the government guidelines including the wearing of masks and should they have forgotten to bring one with them, they are available to purchase from several retailers including Boots and Superdrug."

The Mall, Maidstone

The Mall shopping centre's safety measures
The Mall shopping centre's safety measures

Shoppers in the county town will be regularly reminded to mask up in the Mall.

Suzie Brindle, marketing manager, said: "Enforcement of the wearing of face covering is a police matter, however, we will be encouraging our guests to wear face covering through additional signage at entrances and regular tannoy announcements.

"Throughout this period our number one priority has been the health and safety of our guests and colleagues. We are continually monitoring public health service advice on this and working through how we can ensure that we are operating as efficiently as possible within the confines of the government’s directions.

"We will be asking all of our guests, retailers and employees to comply with the government’s legal directive on the wearing of face coverings in shops and retail spaces from July 24, until further notice. We would like to thank all our guests for their ongoing support and understanding."

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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