The chief constable of North Yorkshire Police has said she hopes the public embraces a new law that will require people to wear face coverings in stores.
Chief Constable Lisa Winward was speaking during an online meeting with North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan today.
She was asked about news from the government that from July 24 wearing a face-covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory.
Those who fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £100.
Chief Constable Winward said she hoped the new legislation would follow the lead of previous coronavirus laws and allow the police to be able to talk to those breaching the regulations before enforcing any penalty.
She the force was following a policy of “enforcement as a last resort”.
She added: “We would much rather advise people if they are ill-informed about what the requirements are before we have to issue any enforcement.
“I am hoping that if this piece of legislation is issued in the same way that it is absolutely an advisory thing where people will be polite and courteous when they are asked to put a face mask on or a face covering and we only have to go as the police service in really extreme circumstances where the public need us to react to something where people do not want to support the health and well-being of the rest of society.”
PCC Mulligan said she worried for people in retail and transport industries who will be required to ask people to put on masks and face coverings.
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker added that the force was still waiting to see what the detail of final legislation would say before it starts issuing guidelines to the public and to businesses but that discussions within the force had begun in expectation of the change in the law.
He added that the public would need to get ready and have 10 days to make or buy face coverings to ensure they are prepared.
Richard Flinton, chairman of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF) also backed the new mask law, saying he did not see why anyone would not want to wear one.
He said: “We have got to think ‘why on Earth not?’ We are in a time like no other before and to look after our fellow citizens in North Yorkshire, take care of their health and look after those vulnerable people then why for Heaven’s sake can we not just wear face masks in these settings?”