Nottingham residents have been left split by the relaxation of mandatory mask in shops and public spaces.
Some stores in the city are leaving it to customer choice out fear of losing business, yet shoppers still remain divided in their opinions on mask wearing.
A regular shopper in the city centre, Jeff Wilson, said: ”I think it’s time for us to get rid of masks, Covid is on the decline so why should we be forced to put them on.”
But, Harry Thompson, a student in Nottingham, said: “It is a moral obligation to wear masks, it’s for the greater good and I will certainly continue to wear my face mask whether it is policy or not, it’s for the greater good.”
Gina Keenan, a Nottingham resident working in the city, said:” My husband is vulnerable, and I work with vulnerable people so I’m only doing the right thing by wearing it in shops, not just for myself but also for my family members and the people around me”.
Since March 24, businesses no longer have to enforce mandatory face masks in stores after Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told the House of Commons cases were falling and the country has passed the peak of the Omicron variant, meaning restrictions, including mask wearing in shops, could be eased.
Steph Gibbs, store manager at The Bead Shop on Market Street, said: “It’s really about how comfortable people feel but our staff will continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future.
“We’re only a small team and if any of us get Covid it can be quite detrimental to the running of the business.
“We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable, but most understand that we are a small business and they are helping us by wearing masks, but we don’t want to make people feel as though they can’t come into the shop if they aren’t wearing them either”.
Jen Armstrong, coffee shop manager at 200 Degrees Coffee, added:” The only places we have implemented mask wearing is for our staff on the floor delivering coffee to customers.
“If they are behind the bar, it is their decision on whether they wear masks, but we don’t enforce it.”
She continued: ”It’s nice that we don’t have to shout through the masks for our customers to hear us because when it was mandatory, it was quite challenging.”
The Government has relaxed rules as coronavirus cases continue to fall, with the hope that mandatory self-isolation can also also be lifted by the end of March.