SHOPPERS must wear face coverings in all stores from today, but what can we expect to change as the new rules come into effect? Kit Vickery reports.

NEW government guidelines will come into force today, urging all shoppers to cover their mouth and nose in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The new rules, which don't apply to children under 11, people with disabilities, or those with breathing difficulties, aim to prevent the majority of droplets from coughing, sneezing, and speaking being transported through the air, reducing the risk of infection from people who don't know they have covid-19.

Under the new regulations, people will need to wear a face covering in banks, takeaway outlets, and sandwich shops, although not in restaurants, pubs, or gyms.

For shops that offer a mixture of takeaway and eat-in services, the rules have caused a lot of complication.

Nigel Lyons, the owner of Coffee Grind in Newport Street, has had to prepare for two types of customers, who have two different rules to follow.

He said: "We have signs in the window saying that coverings are mandatory to order, but customers sitting in can remove the masks.

"We will refuse people without face masks out of respect of our staff.

"I think cafes and coffee shops will find it a lot harder people people will be sitting in and once they stand up we've got to go and disinfect everything and if anyone needs to use the toilet it's all got to be sprayed and wiped down so it's going to be a full-time job just keeping up with that.

"Most of our customers already wear masks when they come in, about 90 per cent of people have been respecting it so far.

"We're trying our best and it doesn't help when they guidelines are being changed four times in one week, it's tough at the moment, especially with the ten per cent of people who think the rules don't apply to them."

Although it is up to individuals to take responsibility for wearing a mask, businesses are encouraged to remind customers of the law.

Many firms have said that they will not be forcing customers to wear masks, and will continue to serve shoppers without facial coverings.

Supermarket giants are among those who have confirmed that their staff will not be responsible for enforcing the new rules.

A spokesman for Asda said: "Whilst we will do all we can to strongly encourage customers to wear a face covering inside our stores, it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules."

Sainsbury's confirmed a similar stance, saying that stores would display posters reminding customers of the new rules, with regular tannoy announcements asking shoppers to wear a face covering, but enforcement would not be done by colleagues.

Smaller, independent businesses have taken similar stances, with John's Premier shop in New Street, Blackrod, asking customers to follow the rules.

In a message to shoppers, the firm said: "We won’t be refusing anybody who comes in without, but we have to remind you, you should have some form of face covering.

"Can we ask you to respect other people, and to still maintain social distancing.

"It’s a funny old world at the moment, but we have to follow the guidelines put in place."

Face coverings must also be worn in shopping centres, such as Crompton Place, and the Market Place in the town centre.

At nearby Trafford Centre, both staff and shoppers must wear a mask when in the building, with people being refused entry, or asked to leave the centre if they fail to wear one.

Alison Niven, centre director at intu Trafford Centre, said: “We’re seeing more and more of our visitors returning every day, enjoying a day out and visiting their favourite brands.

"People are really enjoying being back, and making the most of a little retail therapy.

"In addition to the existing safety measures we already have in place, from today, everyone that visits the centre, whether that’s to work or to shop, will need to wear a face covering.

"We know that the experience will feel different, however we hope these measures will help provide all our visitors with additional reassurance.”

Yesterday, unions expressed concern that the new rules could leave staff vulnerable to abuse.

Paddy Lillis, general-secretary of shop workers’ union Usdaw, called for clearer guidance from the government to protect staff from potential abuse.

He said: "We welcome the indication that shop workers will not be expected to enforce the wearing of face coverings.

"They are already dealing with more abuse than normal and this could be another flashpoint.

“There must also be clarity on age identification procedures, under the Think-25 policy, when a customer is wearing a face covering.”