Face coverings to be compulsory in Sunderland's Bridges shopping centre
Visitors to Sunderland’s Bridges shopping centre will be required to cover their faces from Friday - even if they do not enter any shops.
The Government announced earlier this month that it would be mandatory to wear face coverings in shops in England from Friday, July 24.
Environment secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast the delay between the announcement of the new measures and their coming into force was designed to give people "time to prepare".
Those who do not comply with the new measures could face fines of up to £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Essential shops – mainly those selling food and housewares – remained open during the lockdown but other ‘non-essential’ retail outlets were allowed to reopen last month.
The Bridges has imposed a raft of measures to protect customers and staff.
The social distancing precautions include a one-way system throughout the centre, with entrances marked up with entrance and exit signs, while notices have been put up to remind people to keep their two-metre distance from others and stick to the right route.
A dedicated cleaning team has been established to keep keeping touchpoints, such as doors, railings and ATM and lift buttons, sanitised, and the doors of the toilets and baby change facilities are staffed to ensure a one-in-one-out flow.
Sanitisation stations are also in place so people can clean their hands as they arrive and leave.
Duncan Allen, Building and Services Director at the Bridges, said the centre would be enforcing the new rules. He was confident it would not be a problem: “From Friday, July 24, face masks must be worn in shops and we will also be expecting all visitors entering the Bridges to abide by the same rules,” he said.“The Government has introduced this measure to protect people in retail environments, which for us extends to the malls and public areas of the centre.“Our shoppers have embraced all the procedures put into place since lockdown eased and we are sure they will recognise the importance of wearing a mask when either in a shop or walking through the centre and will continue to behave in a responsible fashion.”