UK jewellery retailers believe the new face covering rule for shops could be a good way to encourage more people to the high street, but presents new security risks and challenges around staff safety.
The UK Government has announced that, from Friday 24 July, all shoppers in England will be required to wear face masks.
Police will enforce the new rule with £100 fines for those who fail to comply, while retail staff will be exempt from the rule.
The same rule was implemented in Scottish shops last week.
While consensus seems to be that it should have been introduced sooner, the decision has also come under fire, not least because it puts the onus on shop staff to enforce it and may open them up to abuse from already irate customers.
Professional Jeweller has spoken to two UK jewellers to gauge their take on the new rule.
Simon Oxby, group operations manager of Berry’s Jewellers, an independent, family-owned business, remained optimistic in light of the news.
He commented: “We believe that it may actually give customers more confidence to come out onto the high street and shop with us.
“Through our social media channels and website, most of our customers know that we have made our showrooms a safe place for them and our colleagues. Hopefully this will further allay their concerns.”
Meanwhile, Peter Jackson, managing director of Peter Jackson the Jeweller in Preston, said: “I don’t think it will particularly have a damaging impact, but we do have to consider the security issues.
“We have already gone to a great deal of time and expense to make sure that our staff and customers are as safe and secure as is reasonably possible. We are a relatively low footfall business and although there have to be rules, the government have repeatedly proved that a one-size-fits-all approach is fraught with problems.”
Jackson concluded: “If a customer comes in to one of our stores without a face mask, we shall remind them of their legal obligation to wear one.”
Going into more specifics regarding how they shall enforce the rule, Simon Oxby of Berry’s added: “We have a meet-and-greet on our entrances, with some stores having our usual security personnel in place.
“They will politely ask people who are not wearing a mask on entry to use one of our disposable ones, to protect them and our colleagues once inside the store. I hope, with the government announcements, that the majority of people will adhere to this, as many are doing so already.”