Coronavirus: York shoppers told ‘wear face coverings now’

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Health officials in York say residents and visitors should wear face coverings now when in public spaces

Health officials say residents and visitors in York should begin wearing face coverings immediately and not wait for the government’s date of 24 July.

The city’s director of public health said there was “mounting evidence for the value of wearing face coverings”.

The government said wearing coverings in shops would be compulsory from 24 July, with £100 fines for those who refuse to wear one.

York’s Outbreak Control Board said masks gave confidence to shoppers.

The city’s director of public health, Sharon Stoltz, said: “I would ask residents not to wait until 24 July and start wearing face coverings now in all public spaces.

“There is growing evidence that face coverings can stop the spread of coronavirus and I would urge residents to play their part and wear a face covering when out and about.”

Dr Andrew Lee, a director at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There is a benefit – if someone’s got an infection, they might be asymptomatic and a face covering is going to reduce likelihood of them transmitting an infection.”

He said businesses and the health service would benefit because staff will be less likely to catch the virus, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Andrew Lowson, executive director of York Business Improvement District (BID), also backed the plans.

“Unless people come into the city centre in much larger numbers in the next couple of months, we are going to see serious amounts of businesses failing.”

Lisa Winward, Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, said forces were waiting for guidance from the government on enforcing the rule, which has not yet been made law.

Highlighting the difficulties shop owners and staff would face if a customer was not wearing a face covering, she said: “If you ask people and you explain it’s for health reasons, generally you won’t get that kick-back.

“And if they do get a kick-back, absolutely from a policing perspective, we will go and support those local people.”

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Visitors to Jorvik Viking Centre in York will be “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions at Jorvik Viking Centre, said it would be asking people to follow the government guidance.

“Having considered the new government guidelines about face coverings, we are strongly encouraging all visitors to wear face coverings throughout their visit, in addition to all the new safety and social distancing measures we have in place.

“From 24 July it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in our gift shop.”

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