Forget the rules, we’ll keep masks say Shrewsbury shoppers as England exits Plan B

Many may have expected Salopians fed up of hiding their smiles and steaming up their glasses to be gleefully binning their masks.

Emma Clarke and Joel Harris, both 17, still plan to wear masks in shops
Emma Clarke and Joel Harris, both 17, still plan to wear masks in shops

But despite the rules on face coverings being relaxed after the Prime Minister ended Plan B restrictions, it appears Shropshire folk want to remain cautious.

Compulsory mask-wearing has been a contentious issue throughout the pandemic, with repeated calls being made for people to respect the rules as well as shop staff, who have faced abuse for asking customers to comply.

But a quick straw poll in Shrewsbury town centre appeared to suggest county people want to remain vigilant at this stage.

Students Alice Rugman and Eli Guidon will be sticking with wearing masks in shops for now.

“It’s a bit difficult,” said Alice. “I know the cases are going down but there are still people dying. There’s still a pandemic going on. I just don’t think it’s the time to get rid of the masks.”

Eli added: “I’ll carry on wearing one. I work in a charity shop and when you’re constantly dealing with people in close proximity, you just get used to wearing one.”

Students Alice Rugman and Eli Guidon don't agree that now is the time to scrap face mask rules

Mark Edwards, managing director of shoe and clothing store Prego in the Square, said most of his shoppers have carried on with masks.

“Most people have still had masks on. I’m just leaving it for the public to decide for themselves.

“On a nice day like today when we’ve got the door wide open, I don’t wear a mask, to be honest. But if it’s busy in the shop then I will. I ask my staff to use their common sense when it comes to masks.”

On dealing with the compulsory mask rule, he added: “Everybody’s very compliant. A few moaned and said ‘do I have to?’. But I try and make a laugh and a joke out of it and they’re usually alright. I think most people realise it has been for their own safety.

“I don’t think it has affected trade. It’s just a seasonal thing. In our trade it’s like ‘spot the customer’ at this time of year. People have spent their money at Christmas and they’re waiting for their next month’s salary to come in.”

Mark Edwards managing director at Prego, says many customers are keeping their masks on

Retail buyer Nick Edge, from Shrewsbury, said: “I’ll still carry on wearing a mask. It eliminates some of the risk. Anything I can do to help reduce the risk has got to be a good thing.

“I’ve just been into M&S and a big percentage of people were wearing masks. With staff, I think it should be up to them. I work in an office where I don’t have to wear one, so it’s easy for me to say they should, but they’re the ones who have had to.

“I do think it’s too early to relax the rules. The government have been premature about relaxing rules all the way through the pandemic.”

Housewife Karen Davies, from Shrewsbury, said: “I’ll be carrying on as normal, as though we still have to wear them.

“It’s for my own peace of mind. I still feel a bit nervous about going into shops anyway."

The 57-year-old added: “I know we’ve got to get on with life and we have to live, but I hope people still remain careful and cautious. I think it’s still too early (to relax mask rules). The rates are going up in schools.”

Students Joel Harris and Emma Clarke, will also continue to wear masks. Joel said: “If I’m going into a shop, I’m going to wear a mask. If I don’t it’s not me I’m putting at risk. It’s other people. I don’t want to make other people’s decisions for them.”

Emma added: “We’ve come so far. I think we should still wear them.”

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