Fines for refusing to wear mask only issued as a ‘very last resort’, say North Yorkshire Police

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North Yorkshire Police say they will only issue fines for people refusing to wear face masks in shops as a ‘very last resort’.

The force is also asking people to report people for not wearing a mask using an online form rather than calling them.

Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets becomes mandatory from tomorrow.

The Government has given the police the power to fine people if they are not wearing one.

However, North Yorkshire Police said they would only do this as a “very last resort” and will continue their policy of “engaging, explaining and encouraging” people to follow the rules.

Superintendent Charlotte Bloxham, silver commander for the response to Covid-19, said: “As with the policing of the previous coronavirus regulations, we know the vast majority of people will do as the Government have asked, as they know how important it is to protect themselves, their families and other people.

“Since the new regulations were announced, we have been liaising with local retailers to explain how we will police these new regulations.

“Demand on our service is almost back to normal pre-coronavirus levels, so we have to prioritise where we deploy our officers.

“We will take a sensible approach to enforcement and hope people understand that we cannot attend every incident. To that end, please bear this in mind before reporting anyone for not wearing a face-covering.

“To help keep our phone lines free for urgent policing matters, we urge anyone who wishes to report a breach of the regulations, to do so via our online coronavirus reporting form which can be found on our website. Please only call if a situation escalates and your safety is threatened.”

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, added: “Controlling the spread of the virus, which it seems clear will be part of our lives for some time, is a vital part of trying to return to a more normal way of life. Wearing face masks in shops and supermarkets is one part of that and I support the new rules and North Yorkshire Police’s approach to them.

“Clearly, it is never going to be possible for officers to police every retailer or respond to every report of someone not wearing a mask. If you have concerns, please report them on the North Yorkshire Police website rather than calling 101.

“We need everyone to be sensible and to do their part to ensure we stop the spread of coronavirus, but also we need our emergency services to be focused on prioritising the most serious incidents to keep us safe and feeling safe.

“Achieving that balance in these challenging times is difficult and I would ask everyone to use their common sense and be patient as we all get used to this changed world.”

Retailers can refuse entry to anyone who is not wearing a face covering.

There are some exemptions to this latest regulation, a full list can be found on the website here