READERS may be interested to hear of my experiences since it became mandatory on Friday to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets.
The government and the media have created such a climate of fear that the majority of shoppers have complied with these impositions. Here is a Twitter trail which shows how many have been convinced by the propaganda that wearing a mask is essential to survival. Others do not relish the stress of being turned away from a shop or the possibility of a £100 fine.
However I have been in seven stores so far and have not been challenged by any staff, at the entrance, in the store or at the checkout.
Clearly most supermarkets and shops have decided to not get involved on the issue apart from putting up signage. They are aware that commercially it is not a good idea to upset customers by challenging them on masks.
Added to this, many police forces have said that they do not have the manpower to enforce the regulations, so they will not be hanging around outside supermarkets. Even if they did, it would be very debatable if they had the power to ask for confidential medical details, so generally a person’s word would have to be accepted.
Going into a supermarket with a bare face can be quite a daunting experience because virtually all other shoppers are muzzled (though not this one).
I am sure there are many who could be exempt but wear a mask for fear of the reaction from other customers. However the only problem I have heard of so far is of someone (who happened to have a medical condition) being asked by another shopper why they were not wearing a mask. If this happens, the best thing is to tell them it is none of their business.
If you have visited a shop with a mask on and decide to go back without one, there is again no reason to be concerned. You are very unlikely to be asked why you are not wearing one this time (because it is an intrusion on your privacy), and if you are asked, you simply say that wearing one did not suit you medically.
Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or a home-made sign. This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law, but in my opinion, wearing something like this is like a sign that you are different, and might in itself be stressful. You could have a badge, an inhaler or a prescription in your pocket if it gives more assurance. Remember that from the evidence so far you are unlikely to need any form of proof. Your word should be accepted.
In the meantime, the new regulations are being studied to assess how to challenge them legally. For a summary of the rules, see my TCW article from Thursday.