Meadowhall boss slams ‘aggressive men’ not wearing masks who ‘claim to have asthma’
‘Very aggressive’ young men who claim to have asthma when challenged on not wearing a face mask are one of Meadowhall’s biggest problems.
Security teams have repeatedly faced a ‘combative’ response from shoppers - particularly teenage men who ‘just don’t bother’ to wear a mask and ‘tell you they are exempt because of asthma’, according to centre director Darren Pearce
He said the ‘kickback’ over attempting to ensure they were worn was their biggest frustration. And the exemption rules were too broad.
He added: “I have never known so many people have asthma in my life.
“It’s a very conflicted and combative situation. We can only ask if people are exempt and we get a very aggressive comeback on that.
“The kickback we have had is particularly from young guys in their late teens and early 20s, who just don’t bother and tell you they are exempt because of asthma.
“Our security teams are stuck in the middle. People say they are not complying and we call police because it’s against the law and then it’s all over social media.”
Mr Pearce was giving online evidence to a meeting of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee chaired by Sheffield MP Clive Betts. The discussion, called ‘Supporting our high streets after COVID-19’, featured evidence from top bosses at Timpson, EE, and JD Wetherspoon.
Mr Pearce said the problem was likely to get worse when indoor dining and the cinema reopened on Monday.
He added: “Compliance in that group is particularly difficult.”
Police can fine people who do not wear a mask ‘without reasonable excuse’.
Meadowhall Police Sergeant, Paul Robinson said: “Our role throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been to support Meadowhall staff, who speak to people in the first instance in relation to suspected breaches of Covid-19 regulations.
“We continue to engage with members of the public, advise on current Covid-19 restrictions and educate them about why they should be followed. This involves speaking to anyone who is not wearing a face mask, unless they are wearing an exemption lanyard which is visible.
“Enforcement action is always a last resort, but we do have the power to issued Fixed Penalty Notices in instances where there is continued non-compliance, or a risk to wider public health.”