Female shopper wearing a face covering

Residents in South Cheshire are being urged to follow new coronavirus legislation as face coverings in shops becomes mandatory from today (July 24).

All residents over the age of 11 must wear a face covering inside all retail stores and supermarkets, unless they have medical reasons not to.

Cheshire Police officers will have the power to issue a £100 fine to anyone who breaches the new rules.

This fine will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

Exemptions in place include those with a disability or specific medical condition and any child under the age of 11.

The new law does not apply to staff working in shops and people are not required to wear masks inside pubs, bars or restaurants.

Superintendent Julie Westgate said: “These changes should act as a reminder to everyone that COVID-19 has not gone away and it is essential we continue to do all we can to reduce the spread of this virus.

“Everyone needs to play their part and take personal responsibility by ensuring they follow the guidance and wear a face covering whenever required.

“While police do have the power to issue fines to anyone who breaches the legislation – this will be a last resort and we are relying on the goodwill of the people of Cheshire in sticking to the rules.

“Retailers are expected to manage entry to their stores and compliance with the law while customers are inside.

“Therefore, if you are out and about in a retail store and see somebody who you believe may be breaching the regulations, please don’t call 101 straight away – we would urge you to speak to a store worker who can then attempt to resolve the issue within the store.

“In cases where the store worker is unable to resolve the issue, they themselves can contact police for support.

“In instances where police attendance is required, we will continue to use common sense and discretion to determine what is reasonable, with officers using the 4Es approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and, only as a last resort, enforcing.”

Cheshire East Council says the new rules also apply to council-run buildings open to the public, such as libraries.

Face coverings, which simply cover the nose and mouth and are not the same as face masks, also remain mandatory on public transport.

A face covering is something which safely covers your mouth and nose, and an be a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth coverings.

A face covering should:
● Cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably
● Fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
● Be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
● Be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable such as cotton
● Include at least two layers of fabric
● Unless disposable, it should be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged.

Dr Matt Tyrer, acting director of public health at Cheshire East Council, said: “It’s important to follow government guidance on wearing face coverings to protect one another and to stop the spread of Covid-19 across Cheshire East.

“Before putting a face covering on you need to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.

“Avoid touching the part of the covering that covers your mouth and nose, do not move it and wear it on your neck or forehead and change it if it becomes damp.

“Your hands should be washed thoroughly before removing the face covering, only handle the straps, ties or clips, do not share it with someone else to use and wash your hands again once the covering is removed.

“Wearing a face covering will not protect the wearer but will provide some protection to others the wearer comes into contact with.

“It does not replace the need to social distance – this must still be adhered to as well as regular hand hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes.

“By working together to follow official advice we can help to support the NHS and protect the health and livelihoods of everyone in our communities.”

Single-use face coverings must be disposed of in a waste bin.

Do not put them in your recycling bin, as this would put council waste staff at risk when the items need to be separated.

Cheshire East Council’s trading standards team warns against buying unsuitable ones from door-to-door salespeople or online.

Always purchase from a reputable store.

For help purchasing online, visit the Which? website at: www.which.co.uk/reviews/face-masks/article/face-masks-where-to-buy-them-and-how-to-make-your-own

More information about the NHS test and trace service can be found via the council’s website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/council_information/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19.aspx

For a full list of exemptions to wearing a face covering visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own

For further details regarding the legislation visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/face-coverings-mandatory-in-shops-supermarkets-shopping-centres-and-enclosed-transport-hubs-from-friday

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