Devon and Cornwall Police says officers will only hand out £100 fines to residents refusing to wear face masks in shops ‘as a final option’.
Changes to government Covid-19 legislation mean it will be mandatory to don the coverings in retail premises from Friday, July 24.
Outlets will be able to prevent anyone without one from entering.
Police have also been given new powers to issue fixed-penalty notices to anyone flouting the rules.
Devon and Cornwall Police says it will be adopting an ‘educate, engage and encourage’ approach – with enforcement a ‘final option’.
Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said: “The Government has announced the change to Covid-19 legislation in order to further protect the public and those working in retail premises from being exposed to the pandemic.
“As lockdown measures ease, there is a need for us all to be socially responsible and play our part in reducing Covid risk and protecting each other as much as possible.
“Our approach will be similar to that already seen with face coverings being mandatory for those travelling on public transport.
“We will be engaging and educating the public with enforcement as a final option.
“It is disappointing if my officers are having to give a £100 fixed-penalty notice to any member of the public for refusing to comply with the legislation.
“My hope is that everyone will be socially responsible and play their part in keeping our residents and many tourists in our region safe.”
The force says officers have been talking to businesses and traders to ensure support is given to the economy in the region as it recovers following lockdown.
Visitor numbers across the region are seeing ‘considerable increases’ as shops, pubs, holiday parks and campsites have reopened.
ACC Mayhew added: “It’s important we support our economy as it looks to restart and we come together as communities at a critically important time for the tourist industry.
“But that needs to be done safely. Many of our businesses have taken extraordinary measures to increase safety to the public, and wearing a face covering is the next step to reducing risk.
“Covid has not gone away and the responsibility for wearing a face covering sits with an individual.
“We know shops have already been managing customers effectively, so we hope everyone will adapt to the new measure and play their part in a creating a safer society.”
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