Customers will respect face mask law, predict shop staff
SHOPS in Barnard Castle believe their customers will follow new government laws for them to wear masks but some questioned the logic.
In particular, they wonder why restaurant, pub and cafe patrons do not have to wear face coverings.
Robert Dunbar, of the Corner Bistro on The Bank, believes county council and government officers should allow businesses “more leeway” to operate as normally as possible.
He has been told by county officers he cannot have outdoor seating, despite having a licence to do so, because the pavement is too narrow to keep customers safely away from passing pedestrians.
He said: “That is what Barnard Castle is famous for – to enjoy those nooky places where you can sit and watch the world go by. They have got to enable business to resume some sort of normality. They need to maintain businesses for the town.
“Everyone must have a bit of leeway within the rules.
“People entering a cafe or pub don’t have to [wear a mask] so I don’t see what the difference is [when entering a shop].”
Across the road at Connelly’s Toy Shop customers “have been respectful of the rules” and Mel Wade believes people will follow the facemask rule when it comes into force.
She said, however, shop staff might find it uncomfortable to wear face coverings over an extended period.
She added: “Every time a customer comes in we put it on. Pauline [Connelly] prefers the visor, I prefer the face mask. If we haven’t got a customer in we are removing them.”
The toy shop has enjoyed good community support throughout the coronavirus lockdown.
Ms Wade said: “Right at the beginning we sold quite a few educational games. Then we did click and collect and on Saturdays we delivered further up the dale and to remote places.
“Touch wood, it has worked quite well and we are ticking over.”
Clock and watch repairer Dave Wilson, who sells and eclectic mix of goods from his shop on Horse Market, has taken to stocking facemasks and visors.
He said: “We should be wearing them really. I am going to be wearing one of these visors because obviously you can’t talk very well [when wearing a mask].”
Mr Wilson said people were initially reluctant to come out when he re-opened his store after restrictions were lifted.
He said: “It was slow at first but more and more people are coming in. They are not too bad [at keeping social distancing rules]. You get one or two coming in at a time.
“You have to sanitise after every transaction. I must wash my hands a hundred times a day.”
One of those visiting Wilsons last week to buy masks and visors for his staff was Cross Lanes Organic Farm Shop owner Peter Coverdale.
He said: “We are doing all the social distancing and we have put the appropriate screens up.
“I was surprised Wilsons are selling masks for £1.99 and visors for £2.99. I have been online and they are selling visors for £75, so it pays to support local business.”
People visiting shops in England will have to wear a face covering from Friday, July 24. There are a number of exemptions including children under 11; having a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability; wearing one would cause the user severe distress; and if someone is travelling with or providing help to a person who relies on lip reading.