AFTER weeks of mixed messages, the Government has announced it will soon be mandatory to wear a face covering in supermarkets and other shops in Herefordshire and across England.

As of July 24, you must have your nose and mouth covered when you go shopping or risk a £100 fine, this will be reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.

John Thyne, aged 49, soft services manager, lives in Sutton St Nicholas, near Hereford.

He said: "Unfortunately, I believe this will mean fewer people on the high street and more shopping online.

"I can see more businesses failing based on that."

It will be up to police to enforce the new rules, not business owners or shop workers, although they are being asked to encourage customers to comply.

The Government has been reluctant to enforce the wearing of face coverings up until now, and its guidance says that although they will not protect the wearer they will, hopefully, protect others.

Some of the Government’s most senior advisers have warned that face coverings can give people a false sense of security and lead to over-reliance on “ineffective homemade masks” rather than thorough hand hygiene.

Beth Ditchfield, 32, of Weobley, works in the EE shop Hightown, Hereford.

She said: "Everyone is moaning about it being a little too late. Just remember hardly anything was open until last month, so the social distancing seemed to be enough.

"But now everyone is walking around town like nothing has happened.

"I see it as a good thing. Masks need to be compulsory!

"It will also make me feel safer being at work as I sit with customers for up to an hour a time in close proximity.

"It’s really not that hard just to put on a mask whilst you whizz around the shops is it?"