SHOPS owners in Oxford have largely welcomed a move to make face masks compulsory saying they hope it will give customers more confidence.

The government announced this week from July 24 all those entering shops and supermarkets must wear a face covering, with shoppers who flout the rules facing a possible £100 fine.

Karen Draisey, who owns Oxford Yarn Store, said she believed it would make people feel safer.

She said: “My shop is quite small and people like to browse. Many of my customers already wear masks and are vigilant. I think it’s due to the older demographic, many of my younger customers are staying away at the moment as the colleges are closed and people are working from home.”

Oxford Mail:

Karen Draisey

Ms Draisey, who has run the North Oxford shop for seven years, added: “If we drop our guard there could be a second or third spike. We need to work together to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

She said if the virus is not brought under control the economic impact would be ‘horrendous’.

This was echoed by Josh Knight, who owns ethical clothing and gift store Indigo on Cowley Road.

POLL: What do you think about new face mask rules?

He said: “We are actually already asking everyone to wear them - as of last week, so we’re a bit ahead of the curve.

"And, since we put it out on social media we have had more customers coming in, so that’s interesting isn’t it. I think many of them feel safer to shop now.”

He added they were ‘very happy’ the government would now be supporting the business by enforcing face masks ‘finally’.

Oxford Mail:

Indigo owners Joshua and Sarah Knight

Amanda Suliman Bell, who runs independent Frideswide Square boutique Rainbows and Spoons, also said she ‘absolutely’ supported the move, adding: “I think it will give people more confidence. It will certainly give me more."

There was more caution, however, about the potential impact on business from Angela Carroll who owns vintage clothing store Fresh Oxford.

ALSO READ: Three GP surgeries to move to Cornmarket in new plan

She said they would ‘of course’ comply with the new measures adding: “In our small store in the Covered Market it’s very much quieter as we rely heavily on tourism for footfall. We are limiting numbers in the store to three at a time which allows plenty of room for distancing.”

Oxford Mail:

Angela Carroll

She said the majority of customers were not currently wearing a mask, saying: “I think some people aren’t keen on wearing them for long periods and it will stop some from shopping and continue to drive shopping online.

"Possibly it would have been better to designate masks mandatory for stores over a certain size.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus threat 'far from over' as local outbreak plan revealed

"Of course it’s also possible the measure may increase people’s confidence to go shopping which would be very welcome at this time.

"The Covered Market footfall is negligible compared to a normal July.

Joe Devlin of Botley Road’s Country Grains sandwich shop and connected grocery, also said he was not sure what affect the rule change would have but did not mind as long as it kept people safe.