A new CCTV security system that can tell if shoppers are wearing a face mask - and refuse entry to those who aren't - is now being installed at a number of stores across the UK.
The technology is being fitted by shops to ban awkward customers who refuse to wear a face covering during the coronavirus pandemic.
BirminghamLive discovered that as many as HALF of people visiting one branch of Morrisons were not bothering to wear a face covering after the city first went into lockdown.The new CCTV system can tell if a person is wearing a mask - and won't let them in if they aren't (Image: CCTV.co.uk)
And one Midlands attraction said it has experienced 'aggressive' behaviour from visitors when they were asked to put on a mask, or to wear it properly. It warned that anyone being abusive would be asked to leave immediately.
With coronavirus cases on the rise and England now in a three-tier system of lockdown restrictions, some stores are turning to technology to deal with non-compliant members of the public.
The camera system works out if a potential customer approaching the entry doors is wearing a mask or not and then displays a message on a screen to allow or deny access.
"The technology is just fantastic; the CCTV system automatically allows or denies access to the shop and means staff don’t have to be put at risk from difficult customers complaining, or potentially worse", explained James Ritchey from CCTV.co.uk
One garden centre in Yorkshire got the system up and running last week.
Whiteley's Garden Centre in Mirfield is using a Videcon system to control customers behaviour at the main entrance to the store.
They welcome 450 visitors a day, and said staffing the door was a full-time job. They say they have seen a 50 per cent decrease in customer non-compliance.
It said customers not wearing a mask see a message appear on a screen as a prompt to put one on if they are able to (and not exempt) - but it is still allowing anyone to enter the garden centre whether they are wearing a face covering or not.
The solution has been developed because it is now the shops' responsibility to protect both their own staff and the health of their customers.
Mr Ritchey added: "Retailers are working so hard to stay open during these most difficult times, and this system means staff aren’t in the firing line from customers unhappy about current restrictions.
"The other side of using an automated system is it gives customers worried about the virus confidence as they enter a tightly controlled secure Covid-19 store."
Under the latest Government guidance for England, you must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings:
The Government says people are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until they leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.
You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed above where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are also advised to be worn in care homes.
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Premises where face coverings are required "should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law", the Government said.
Police can take action if members of the public do not comply with the law without a valid exemption and transport operators can deny access if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to either put one on or get off the service.Video Loading
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Police and Transport for London officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) for the first offence.
Repeat offenders receiving fines on public transport or in an indoor setting will have their fines doubled at each offence.
Receiving a second fine will amount to £400 and a third fine will be £800, up to a maximum value of £6,400.