A POLICE boss has said overstretched cops wouldn't be able to enforce compulsory mask-wearing in supermarkets.

This comes after reports the Government was actively considering forcing people to wear masks outdoors, as the NHS faces its "most dangerous" point of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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But police sources told the Guardian officers would not be able to enforce mask-wearing in supermarkets — despite any Government crackdown on compliance.

Asked about enforcing rules in supermarkets, one senior police leader told the newspaper: "We won’t be doing that.

"Do people really want the police telling you: ‘that’s not above your nose’?

"There are no extra officers. Everything else [crime] is still happening.

"Where is the greater risk: do you put two people in a supermarket not wearing masks before a woman suffering domestic violence?"

But the unnamed senior police leader's comments came as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said it was "preposterous" that anyone could be unaware of Covid rules,

Writing in The Times, she said: "It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus.

"We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines."

SUPERMARKET GIANTS BAN THREAT

Despite mixed opinions among police bosses about enforcing mask-wearing, supermarkets have said they would be forging ahead with their own rules.

Sainsbury's yesterday said it would order security guards to enforce mask laws as well as make sure people are not shopping in groups.

Meanwhile, Morrisons will stop customers from going inside without a face covering unless they are medically exempt as part of tougher restrictions.

People arriving without a face mask will be offered one free of charge by staff.

But if they then refuse to wear one, they won’t be allowed to enter stores.

The only exception will be if you’re allowed not to wear a face-covering for medical reasons, such as a physical or mental illness.

Children under the age of 11 also don’t have to wear a face mask.

Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?

THE following groups of people don’t need to wear a face mask when in a public place:

This includes:

  • Children under the age of 11
  • People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability
  • Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
  • To avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • Police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public

If you're not exempt, you must wear a face covering in the following settings in England:

  • Public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
  • Taxis and private hire vehicles
  • Transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • Shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • Shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
  • Auction houses
  • Hospitality settings (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink
  • Post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
  • Estate and lettings agents
  • Theatres
  • Personal care and beauty settings (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
  • Vets
  • Visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
  • Libraries and public reading rooms
  • Places of worship
  • Funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
  • Community centres, youth centres and social clubs
  • Exhibition halls and conference centres
  • Public areas in hotels and hostels
  • Storage and distribution facilities

As part of the Government's current guidelines, you can be fined £200 for not wearing a face mask in a public setting — again, unless you are exempt.

Fines double each time someone is found in breach of the rules, up until a maximum of £6,400. 

Morrisons confirmed the stricter rules will come into force from today.

Morrisons Chief Executive, David Potts said: "Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won’t be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt.

"Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind."

The supermarket has already introduced several coronavirus rules, including limiting the number of customers allowed in stores.

THREE PERSON LIMIT

In September, it started a three per person limit on a few key products, including toilet roll and disinfectant, but these have now been lifted.

NHS staff get a priority hour from Monday to Saturday between 6am and 7am and on Sunday, either at 9am or an hour before usual opening if later than that.

There are marshals on the doors at Morrisons, social distancing measures in place and perspex screens at tills.

Other supermarkets have also introduced similar Covid-secure rules – you can read our full supermarket lockdown guide here.

For example, Asda has marshals at the front of stores to remind the public to wear face masks.

If a customer arrives without a covering, they'll be asked to purchase one.

Meanwhile, supermarkets will see fresh checks on safety policies and possible fines for those flouting rules.

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi begged Brits to stay at home in an interview with LBC this morning.

He said: "Please, please, please stay at home. I am concerned about supermarkets.

"We want to make sure people follow the one-way system and wear masks and face coverings."

Speaking today as part of a Downing Street coronavirus news briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he praised Morrisons for the tougher face mask rules.

He said: "I applaud the step Morrisons has taken today. I want to see all parts of society playing a part in this."

Morrisons previously expanded its click and collect service with 37,000 slots now available every day.

Find out the latest supermarket lockdown rules here.

We've put together a guide to find out when supermarkets release upcoming order dates.

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