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Face coverings in shops: Kent reacts

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said wearing face-covering will be made mandatory in shops from July 24.

We sent community reporter, Sophie Bird to Chatham town centre to see how many people are already covering up - and what people think of the PM's comments.

High Street, Chatham, today with not many people currently wearing masks
High Street, Chatham, today with not many people currently wearing masks

It’s safe to say the vast majority of shoppers are not wearing masks at the moment. Walking the length of High Street, Chatham, I could count 36 wearing them out of hundreds who were not. More were wearing a mask in queues for banks and opticians - but not as many did for general shopping.

Despite this, many shoppers were very supportive of the idea of making indoor mask-wearing mandatory. Sharon Marsh, 63, from Chatham said: “I wear one all day for work. It’s fine not to when you’re out and about, but in shops you should wear a mask. If not for your own safety then for the people in the shop.

Though she was not wearing a mask, she added: “I think people would wear one if they were told they had to. It’s got to be made compulsory to work.”

Chris Columb, 25, from Strood said: “People should be wearing them without a doubt. All it takes is for someone to cough in a small, unventilated space and you’ve got it. I’m being cautious as I’ve got a family at risk and it’s better to be cautious.

“A lot of people are already not wearing them on public transport and that’s unfair on the drivers and passengers. People should be more considerate of other people’s feelings. But if it's made mandatory, some will wear them, some won't.”

Chris Columb, 25, says people should be wearing masks in shops as it's better to be cautious
Chris Columb, 25, says people should be wearing masks in shops as it's better to be cautious

Liam Smart from Chatham said: “It’s a bit hypocritical for me not to be wearing one right now, but yes people should to prevent a second spike. If cashiers have to do it then we should too.

More sceptical on whether it would work, the 23-year-old added: “People won’t wear them, of course not. People don’t like being told what they can and can’t do. And some people think it’s all over. People aren’t even wearing them on buses.”

Mr Wells, 52, from Rainham echoed Mr Smart's scepticism. He said: “People won’t have much choice if it’s made mandatory. But there aren’t many shops selling them and they’re expensive. Masks need to be made affordable and available for making it mandatory to work. But this will put a strain on the NHS because they’re already desperate for masks.”

One local woman who didn't want to be named, said outside of Sainsbury’s briefly: “No chance I’m wearing a mask. And no vaccines either, not for me and mine.”

News that face coverings will be compulsory in shops from July 24 sparked a huge debate on our Facebook page.

Many readers welcomed the news - while others said they would be sticking to online shopping.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway


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