Supermarkets across the region are supporting a campaign to stop the spread of coronavirus by reminding shoppers they have to wear a face covering while in the store.
From 24 July it will be compulsory for people to wear a face covering in all shops in England, with those failing to comply risking a £100 fine. Only children under the age of 11 and people for whom wearing a face mask could be harmful to their health will be exempt.
More than 40 stores representing all the major supermarket chains have agreed to take part in the campaign, which involves prominently displaying posters and six-foot high pop-up banners featuring the message “Help Stop the Spread of Coronavirus”. The posters and banners promote the government’s guidance, including wearing a face covering when going into a shop.
The campaign is a joint initiative between NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Commissioning Collaborative, Local Authorities and Bedfordshire Police.
Dr Nicola Smith, Chair of BLMK Commissioning Collaborative, said: “Despite the improving situation it’s critical the public remembers COVID-19 has not gone away – it remains a real threat to our local communities. So I would like to thank all the participating supermarkets and our partners for helping to deliver this important public health message.”
Chief Superintendent John Murphy said: “These new rules are a clear reminder of how quickly this dangerous virus can spread, and the need for us all to take necessary precautions. We do have powers to issue fines to those who don’t wear face coverings without reasonable excuse, but that would only be as a last resort and we are hopeful that people do the right thing by following the guidance to keep themselves and others safe.
“Our control room remains extremely busy so we would ask people to not call police to report breaches of these rules, but to raise any concerns with staff or store security in the first instance who will seek to encourage people to follow the guidance. We’re really grateful that shops and stores are taking the lead through this campaign to remind people to help stop the spread.”
The supermarket banners are part of a wider initiative to get people to wear a face covering when in shops or other enclosed public spaces where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing.
To target younger people, BLMK Commissioning Collaborative launched its #WhyWeWearOurs social media campaign that involves people taking a selfie while wearing a face mask and posting it online with a caption explaining why they cover up.
The campaign has been supported by the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, the Mayor of Bedford, local councillors, doctors and nurses, and to date has reached 250,000 people.