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‘People power will ensure masks are worn’

“PEOPLE” power will ultimately ensure that members of the public wear masks in local shops.

This is the opinion of local retailer, Charlie Hamilton who was speaking ahead of an announcement from Northern Ireland Executive that face coverings will become manditory in shops.

Wearing masks in shops and other enclosed public spaces will be compulsory from Monday, First Minister Arlene Foster said today.

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Last week the Executive revealed that it would launch a public information campaign to encourage the use of masks and that it would be legislating to have the power to make coverings compulsory.

Health Minister Robin Swann said he hoped wearing masks would “become second nature to us in the weeks and months ahead.”

Suggesting that only as many as 10 to 20 per-cent of customers are currently wearing face coverings, Charlie Hamilton – who has shops in Castlederg, Newtownstewart and Omagh – also outlined his hopes that shop staff will not have to wear masks.

“There is a percentage of customers already wearing them,” “You’d notice that the people who have been shielding are the ones more inclined to cover up.

“But I do think that people would wear them if they’re made mandatory.

“People who wear glasses are most anti-masks because when they wear them they steam up the glasses.

“But I wouldn’t like to see masks compulsory for staff. To wear a mask all day would be uncomfortable and hot and for someone doing a day’s shift in a shop, it would be difficult.”

Mr Hamilton said that if needs be, face shields would be a good alternative.

“Staff would rather wear those,” he continued. “They would provide a reasonable working environment and it assures the public that you’re taking safety measures.”

According to the Executive though, current advice to the retail sector says that staff will not be asked to wear face coverings.

The public information campaign will also reinforce current messaging on social distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene.

Mr Hamilton added, “At the minute the percentage of people (customers) wearing masks is sitting somewhere between 10 and 20 per-cent.

“But if it’s made mandatory, we won’t have to police it. You wouldn’t have to worry about it, the customers would soon tell them. It’ll be a case of, ‘If I have to wear one, you have to wear it too.’ People power will have a say in it.”

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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