Most people consider others when they use public transport or go into public spaces like shopping centres or supermarkets and make sure they are correctly wearing a face covering.
However, we know this is a long haul and sometimes people forget to follow some of the restrictions that are in place to protect those who would become very ill if they caught COVID.
Unfortunately, realising you’ve left your face covering at home and nipping into the shops or on a bus is an opportunity for the virus to spread. Not only is this risky for vulnerable people who might be out and about but it’s risking the things we’re able to enjoy again, like meeting friends, day trips or having a meal out.
Councillors alongside Public Health and Transport officials are urging local residents to think about what they are risking before going into a public place or using public transport without a facemask.
Current legislation states that people must wear face coverings when in most indoor settings, including shops and supermarkets (as well as shopping centres), when using public transport (for example, buses and taxis), and when not seated in hospitality venues.
Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, and Stephen Pintus, Director of Public Health and North East Lincolnshire Council, have made the call following increasing numbers of people in the town centres going without face coverings.
Councillor Shepherd said: “I have witnessed more and more people in our town centres without face masks, and I’m having more and more people approach me about the issue, concerned about the spread of the virus in shops and other indoor public places.
“It’s vital that we wear facemasks as much as possible in indoor public spaces, not just to protect ourselves, but to protect others as well.
“If someone makes a decision not to wear a face mask when shopping, they put other people in that shop who are wearing face coverings at risk, and that simply isn’t fair.
“Importantly, if you have an age, health or disability reason, you can be exempt from wearing a facemask. You should not be asked to provide proof of this, but if you wish to display evidence, you can use a template on the GOV.UK website to create an exemption card.
“We need to work together and follow the rules so we can keep the number of coronavirus cases in our area to a minimum and allow a relatively normal life to carry on the way it has for several months now.”
Director of Public Health at North East Lincolnshire Council, Stephen Pintus, added: “Whether you are just nipping to the shop for some milk, or grabbing a sandwich from a café, you must wear a face covering unless you have a medical, mental health condition or a disability that means you cannot tolerate a mask.
“Most people are adapting to the restrictions and understand that sticking to them is not only being considerate to others but means tighter curbs on our activities are less likely. We thank everyone who is willing to make what are currently small sacrifices.
“However, if you are simply choosing not to wear a face covering or abide by social distancing, you are actually choosing to put the lives of others in that shop, café or restaurant at greater risk.
“So get your snazziest facemask out, or design your own, and take it with you wherever you go so you’re not left unable to go shopping or grab a snack.”
A Stagecoach East Midlands representative commented: “It is extremely important that everybody who is required to wear a face covering does so every time they board one of our services. With the increased fines, the support of the police and people themselves becoming more familiar with wearing face coverings in other settings, we expect to see further improvements in compliance with the rules.
“Our drivers continue to remind people that they need to wear a face covering, but we’d like to get the message across loud and clear that this is about protecting everyone else in our communities, not just yourself. Please do the right thing and cover up for your full journey.”
For more information about the Government’s guidelines on wearing facemasks, visit GOV.UK.