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‘It makes it harder’ - Businesses share fears masks will put customers off

PUBLISHED: 08:32 23 July 2020

Bernadette Chappell, who has spent £1,500 on social distancing measures to keep her staff and customers safe at Deck of Cards, in King's Lynn  Picture: Chris Bishop

Bernadette Chappell, who has spent £1,500 on social distancing measures to keep her staff and customers safe at Deck of Cards, in King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

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Business owners have expressed their concern over the ‘detrimental’ impact mandatory face coverings could have on trade.

Jan Moloney, owner of Tickled Pink in Downham Market. Picture: Jan MoloneyJan Moloney, owner of Tickled Pink in Downham Market. Picture: Jan Moloney

As of Friday, July 24, customers will be required to wear them in supermarkets and shops in England or risk a £100 fine.

But shopkeepers in West Norfolk have expressed confusion over the task of enforcement, with some wondering what effect the new measures will have on trade on the high street.

Jan Moloney, owner of Tickled Pink in Downham Market, said people are still fearful of shopping and believes the regulation will result in business dying down over the coming weeks.

She added: “A lot of it is a bit of mass hysteria rather than a necessary sort of wariness.

Tickled Pink, a dress agency shop in Downham Market, reopened  on Tuesday, June 16. Picture: Jan MoloneyTickled Pink, a dress agency shop in Downham Market, reopened on Tuesday, June 16. Picture: Jan Moloney

“From the customers side I think it’s the same when shops started opening, they’re still just as wary and people are generally buying online.

“Some people are openly admitting they won’t shop again. It makes the whole thing harder.”

Mrs Moloney said she will allow for leeway if there is only one person shopping but will ask people to comply or leave if others are in the store.

She added: “It’s the rules, when it comes to people’s safety you can’t skim around it.

Living Paradise in Downham Market -Jamie McGuffog (left) and Terry Hills (right)  in their store on High Street. Picture: Matthew Usher.Living Paradise in Downham Market -Jamie McGuffog (left) and Terry Hills (right) in their store on High Street. Picture: Matthew Usher.

“I had a customer come in last week and she said ‘I’m coming this week because I won’t be coming out next week because I’m a bit claustrophobic and I can’t wear the mask’. You know it is more problems within the trading world.

“Life’s tough but this is going to go on for years and years.”

She said business was busy last week but that has changed since the recent announcement, adding it has caused a ‘grief reaction’ which has resulted in people withdrawing from shopping.

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Terry Hills, who runs Beds of Paradise and Living in Paradise down the road, has experienced similar customer reactions and questioned the need for the new regulation.

Mr Hills said: “People were coming out today because they don’t want to leave the house all the time wearing a mask.

“In the shop we’re not going to force anyone to do anything and if they feel more comfortable not wearing one we have more than enough distance in the shop to be able to keep away from them.

“I often think ‘if the masks were so important why aren’t people wearing them already?’

Deck of Cards, on the High Street in King's Lynn, reopened on Monday, June 15.  Picture: Chris BishopDeck of Cards, on the High Street in King's Lynn, reopened on Monday, June 15. Picture: Chris Bishop

“I don’t feel it will serve any purpose really other than to prevent people from shopping.

“People do have to take responsibility for their own health but I think people are being led a bit. You can’t have it one day saying ‘it’s not necessary’ and then another ‘oh, but it is necessary.”

But over in King’s Lynn - Bernadette Chappell, proprietor of Deck of Cards, holds a different opinion.

She said: “Now our holiday season has started we’re going to get more visitors and they’re coming from all different areas, it’s not just people from King’s Lynn so in some ways it’s a good thing.

“I think it will have a detrimental effect at first until people get used to wearing them. But what else can we do? We have to try protect ourselves.”

She added: “Business has been up and down like a yo-yo, one day we’re good the next day we’re really quiet.

“It’s just going up and down, we just don’t know where we are. If you ask me one day ‘has it been a good day?,’ I’ll say ‘yes’ and if you ask me the next I’ll say ‘no, its been awful.”

The business owner said that the store has very strict safety measures in place, with customers not allowed to enter until they use hand gel.

She added: “We’re not in a position to be turning people away if they’re not wearing masks, it’s down to the police.

“We’ll see when we get to it, I hope people will abide by the law and wear them.”


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