Monday, 10 August 2020
SHOPPERS in Henley have been obeying the new rules on masks.
The Government made the wearing of face coverings in shops compulsory from last Friday in order to protect people from coronavirus.
Traders said that almost all their customers had been happy to follow the instruction.
Jilly Gough, an assistant at furniture and interiors store Brook House in Reading Road, said: “Everyone is wearing masks and looking after each other. They understand why it’s important.
“The only thing I have to keep doing is tell people to sanitise their hands. When they come in their eyes are drawn to the stock and they don’t see the sanitiser in front of them.”
Ms Gough said the business was quiet over the weekend but this was probably due to people being put off by the poor weather rather than having to use a mask to cover their mouth and nose when shopping.
Clothing repair shop Golden Needle in Friday Street had about 40 customers over the weekend and all wore face coverings. The shop also sells masks with a variety of patterns.
Co-owner Deniz Kamalak, 46, said: “I think people in Henley are quite good and they understand they need to use masks.
“Business is generally slow, not like before the lockdown, but we have had more customers coming in just to look at our masks. I don’t think the new rule will reduce business.”
Kate Price, who manages Vinegar Hill, a clothes and lifestyle shop in Duke Street, said almost all her customers had worn a mask since Friday despite some saying it felt uncomfortable.
She said: “About 60 people came in on Friday and I think three out of the whole lot did not wear a mask.
“We had two that didn’t want to wear one because they said they were exempt and we did not ask for proof. I think older people have a different attitude and are not so fussed.”
Ms Price didn’t think the new rules had affected trade, saying: “The amount of customers we’re getting is just the norm.
“In my opinion, introducing the rule now is a little bit too late but I want this pandemic to go so if it’s important that we wear masks then it’s a good idea. The only problem is when people go outside and remove their masks and then forget to put them on again when they go into the next shop.”
Joanna Spriggs, of Fair Mile, Henley, visited jewellers David Rodger Sharp in Duke Street with her daughter Annabel, nine, on Monday while wearing leopard print masks.
It was the first time they had felt safe enough to go shopping together since the Government imposed the lockdown in March.
Ms Spriggs said: “I do feel safer having a mask on. You feel a bit exposed without one and it’s nice to know that everyone else is wearing them as well.”
Annabel added: “I feel safe because the mask is protecting me.”
Mr Rodger Sharp said his customers had been wearing masks but he had noticed that they touched their faces a lot more than normal because of the discomfort caused by the masks. He said: “I do worry that they are actually then touching things around the shop so we’re cleaning the glass and handles a lot more.
“We’ve had a few customers not wearing them but if they’re alone we do not ask them to put them on. If someone else then comes in, we remind them to put one on or that we have some available.
“We have about 2,000 masks and are giving them out to people who need them.
“People need to get into the habit of doing it, so we’re gently reminding them about the new rules.
“Some people do have underlying health conditions which make them exempt but we’re encourging people to wear masks.
“I don’t want to treat people like children and we want to make the shopping experience as easy as possible. ”
Sabine Adams, who manages the Oxfam bookshop in Duke Street, said most customers were following the rules. “I’ve had to ask a couple of people to wear a mask,” she said.
“I definitely think it’s the right thing to do. We probably should have done it much earlier.
“It’s difficult to know whether it has had an effect on footfall, probably a little bit but people were wearing masks beforehand anyway so it’s hard to tell.”
Sheila Hylton, 72, from Emmer Green, visited the shop on Tusday wearing a pink and white striped mask.
She said: “I’m quite happy doing it but I’d not like to wear it for long. Half an hour and you need a break.
“I feel quite comfortable and safe wearing it, particularly when there are a lot of people about. It’s one of those things you just get used to.
“Life is not all plain sailing. I think it’s going to be part of our future and we’re just going to have to get used to it.
“Hopefully, they will design more comfortable masks but mine is a nice fit. I think there’s an opportunity for people with a bit of a fashion sense to design some that are elegant and fun.
“I have got single-use ones but I don’t agree with them because of climate change.” Katie Kew, 57, from Oxford, wore a mask with messages such as “Science is real”, “Black Lives Matter”, “No human is illegal”, “Love is love”, “Women’s rights are human rights” and “Kindness is everything”.
She said: “The virus is still around so I don’t think it can be too late for the masks to make a difference.
“It has got to be done and it’s better to have one that you can wash and wear again rather than just throw away.”
Andrew Jones, 57, also from Oxford, wore a multicoloured mask with graphics such as the peace symbol, which was designed by a friend.
He said: “I’ve been wearing one pretty much since this all started so I’m kind of used to them.
“It’s about keeping other people safe. There are a few people who protest about their so-called human rights and civil liberties but I consider it my duty to protect other people such as the elderly and vulnerable.
“I don’t love wearing the masks but I’m making the best of it.”
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