Council dedicates advisor to go from shop to shop to tell Banburyshire business owners the rules on masks

Cherwell District Council has dedicated an advisor to go round shops and businesses in Banbury to let them know the 'dos and don'ts' about mask wearing.

Shopkeepers can ask customers to wear a mask and must put up signs to that effect, but they cannot quiz them for details if they say they are exempt.

The council says their compliance officer - who is responsible for Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington, is visiting in an advisory capacity to make people aware of the regulations.

"In order to keep staff, themselves and customers safe, business owners are within their rights to ask somebody who refuses to wear a face covering to leave their premises. However, they are not able to demand to see proof to support an individual’s assertion that they are exempt," said a spokesman.

A compliance officer is visiting shops to let proprietors know what their responsibilities are with regard to face coverings. Picture by Getty

"Councils can take enforcement action against any business which is not notifying customers of the need to wear a face covering. This can be signage, verbal reminders, or tannoy announcements."

Responsibility for enforcement of mask wearing, whether it is customers, staff or proprietors lies with the police.

Cherwell said it had a single compliance officer whose work is being prioritised according to risk, effectiveness, information received and requests for help.

“New Covid regulations came out (last) Tuesday which require individuals in all areas of England to wear a face covering in shops unless they have a reasonable excuse not to," the council said.

"Throughout the pandemic, Cherwell District Council staff have been visiting businesses to advise them of their Covid-secure responsibilities. The council is proud of the courteous and professional way they go about their work, in often difficult circumstances.

"We are aware of an increased amount of aggression and verbal abuse directed towards staff, and appeal to the public to show respect for our colleagues and their important work helping stop the spread of Covid.”

The current Government rules say that all businesses and venues, including nightclubs and adult entertainment venues, are able to open. All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events have been lifted.

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars are no longer required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules.

All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safety guidance.

Employers still have a legal duty to manage risks including:

* identifying poorly ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow in these areas

* ensuring staff and customers who are unwell stay at home

* providing hand sanitiser and cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly.

The Gov.UK website says: "Settings in which face coverings are required must display signage or take other measures to ensure customers are aware of the requirement to wear a face covering on their premises where there is no applicable exemption or reasonable excuse."