Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will be heading out to retail premises in Tameside as part of a campaign to encourage the wider use of face coverings.
Superintendent Jane Higham, of Greater Manchester Police’s Tameside district, has called using face coverings a “public obligation” – and said she will be sending her PCSOs out to big stores such as IKEA in Ashton-under-Lyne to convince shoppers to wear masks.
Speaking at a meeting earlier this week, the Superintendent also said that letters are being sent to local retailers asking them to communicate with people entering stores without a mask.
The Superintended stated: “I think it’s a really tricky one this with the face coverings because it’s a guidance rather than actually a piece of legislation, that’s why we’re getting our officers to go in there to actively encourage that and shame people almost into compliance around that.”
Supt Higham added: “I’ve seen it in local shops where I live that people are flouting the face masks.
“But I think it’s a public obligation and that’s what we’re going to try and get people to do it by being very present there and by stopping people and asking them those questions.”
Supt Higham also refused to rule out “enforcement” in certain circumstances.
“Our officers will be there to engage and explain and where people are becoming extremely difficult – and there are occasions when that happens – we will go to an enforcement angle,” she said.
Whilst the government has made mask usage mandatory in shops in England, several major stores have said they will not enforce the rule.
Wearing a face covering is also mandatory on public transport.
More information on the rules around face coverings is explained on the government website.