Suffolk store owners welcome mandatory masks
4:32 PM November 28, 2021
Face masks will be mandatory in stores in Suffolk and Essex from Tuesday following the discovery of a new Omicron variant of Covid-19, including one in Brentwood.
Boris Johnson announced he was reintroducing the face covering rule for shoppers and those who use public transport during a Saturday night briefing, after removing the rule in July. The rules were temporary and would be revised after three weeks.
Traders welcomed the announcement, hoping the hedging will help keep the spread of the new variant at bay.
Mandy Leeson, owner of the Vanil indoor store in Woodbridge, said: “More people have entered the store recently with masks on, it’s better that they wear face masks as Christmas shopping is increasing. more busy I’m glad they’re going to introduce it.
“I just think we need to act now rather than thinking it’s all going to go away when it clearly isn’t. If we can wear face masks, which will clearly help keep this new variant away, I think it will. ‘is a good thing.”
Christmas time is the busiest time of year for her store and she has stressed that she wants the business to remain open, but is open to the prospect of further restrictions.
She added: “We just have to remember where we were at this time last year.”
The positive sentiment surrounding the decision was shared by Alice, who works at Loft & Spiers in Bury St Edmunds.
“I’m happy to be honest,” Alice said. “I didn’t really like that so many people stopped wearing them, because I’m more at risk because I see so many people.
“It’s a welcome sight, anything that can stop this spread is a bonus. I don’t think it should have been massively relaxed yet.
Loft and Spiers already asks people to wait outside if there are too many people inside and they keep their doors open for air circulation unless it’s particularly windy.
Southwold Town Development Manager Hannah Wright believes the change won’t mean much to many store owners as many are already asking shoppers to wear masks.
“If anything, it’ll just be a nice extra reassurance for them that it’s now mandatory,” Hannah said.
“I hope there will be no containment.
“There may be a need for social distancing, I hope that doesn’t happen.”
Hannah thinks we’ll have to “wait and see” how well the new variant spreads and judge its impact before making any big decisions that will impact hospitality.
Although she found it reassuring that the “science is being followed” and how the government “reacted so quickly”.