‘If it prevents lockdown, I have no problem’: England wake up to mask mandate | Coronavirus

The new mask mandate on public transport and in shops in England was cracked observed in London and Manchester Tuesday morning, judging by a Guardian snapshot study.

But as the public balanced frustration knows new restrictions hoping they could prevent another lockdown, there were clear signs that far more people were covering their faces.

In the center of Manchester, 97 out of 147 respondents were in public transport and in shops wearing masks. Some who were not were unaware of the new rules and cited a lack of faith in government policy.

A bus passenger in Manchester on Tuesday.
A bus passenger in Manchester on Tuesday. Photo: Christopher Thomond / The Guardian

IN London, only seven of about 85 passengers counted in the Northern Lines underground carriages were maskless, while about two-thirds of the buses followed. Staff at Sainsbury’s in Camden, the borough where one of the 14 current suspected or confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK was discovered on Monday, handed out 300 masks to customers without masks in the first hour of trading. But once in the store, nine out of 10 customers were masked.

Among both the maskless and the masked, some complained about violated freedoms and being “controlled.” Others saw the logic in trying to slow down the development of Omicron Covid’s “concern variant” and accepted the advice of the government’s scientific advisers that increased mask wearing, at least for three weeks, would help. Few violated the rules took much into account threat of £ 200 fines rising to £ 6,400 for more misdemeanors.

The National Police Chiefs Council said officers would be more visible “in high-risk areas and crowded areas, such as cities and malls, and near transportation hubs,” though no one was seen in Camden Tuesday morning.

Police will “explain the risks and encourage.” [non-mask wearers] to comply with the new rules, ”said Owen Weatherill, assistant chief constable and national leader of Covid. Metropolitan police said it could resort to fines.

JP Lombard removes his mask to have his beard cut at Barber Line Turkish barbers in Camden, but otherwise says he is happy to wear one.
JP Lombard removes his mask to have his beard cut at Barber Line Turkish barbers in Camden, but otherwise says he is happy to wear one. Photo: Sarah Lee / The Guardian

Hairdressing and beauty salons are covered by the new rule, while restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs are not. For a short time, the staff at Barber Line’s Turkish hairdresser in Camden had not caught up.

“We are not wearing masks, but I think we will have to do it again,” said Arum Karim, one of the barbers, who was soon wearing a mask when asked about the new rules.

“If it prevents a lockdown, I have no problem doing it,” said JP Lombard, a 20-year-old veterinary student who gets his beard trimmed. “But it’s contradictory that tomorrow I might want to get on a bus in a mask and go to a crowded nightclub without a mask.”

Passengers board a bus in Manchester on Tuesday.
Passengers board a bus in Manchester on Tuesday. Photo: Christopher Thomond / The Guardian

In Manchester, Richard William, 47, a sales manager, highlighted a similar contradiction. “I went to a theater in London a few days ago where I was sitting shoulder to shoulder with people and there I did not have to wear a mask, but I do in public transport,” he said.

But on a tram in Manchester where compliance seemed to be greater than in shops, Edgar Ogbewe, 54, an official said: “I do not see why it is a debate. It protects everyone. I feel more secure now . “

Wearing masks on public transport in the capital has remained mandatory since “Freedom Day” in July led to the lifting of restrictions elsewhere, but national rules appeared to increase compliance. Several people wore them on bus 390 from Archway to Victoria, according to one of the drivers, Dawit, 50, but he was tired of having to ask passengers to stay.

A woman is wearing a mask while shopping for Christmas.
A woman is wearing a mask while shopping for Christmas. Photo: Sarah Lee / The Guardian

“I have a machine that tells them to wear a face mask, but they just ignore it, ”he said.

Lola, 23, a masked hospital receptionist, said the rules made her feel “controlled.”

“What happened to human rights?” she said. “Why can it not be a choice? They say it protects other people, but I do not know if it is another way to control. She said she got her news from Instagram and Twitter.

It looked like it could be a long day for store staff posted at doorways to remind the public of the new rules.

“I can not enforce it,” said Steph, the manager at Saves, a discount chemist. “It is the job of the police. Some people just do not want to wear it and I can not prove whether they are exempt. If they do not want to wear it, it is their choice. “

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