Shopper thrown out of Meadowhall after refusing to wear a mask while drinking coffee
A furious shopper has accused Meadowhall security guards of using excessive force against him after he refused to put his mask back as he sipped a takeaway coffee.
Michael Perry said the incident occurred at 10.45am when he was out Christmas shopping with his wife as the shops started to get busy.
The 50-year-old father said he pulled down his mask temporarily to take a drink when a security guard came up to him and told him to put his mask back on.
He said: "I've pulled it down to take a drink, he then proceeded to tell me I couldn't drink my coffee due to Covid rules.
"I started to question, why are you serving people then and said what about all these people with drinks?".
Michael also claimed that the security guard "kept following him", resulting in him getting flustered and shouting profanities at him.
"He then grabbed me, pressed his alarm button and within minutes I was assaulted by at least five guards trying to put me on the floor," he said.
But Meadowhall, in response, said the customer refused to wear his face covering and became "verbally abusive" to staff before being asked to leave the centre.
And escorting the customer off the premises by security team is "always a last resort" as the customer refused to leave.
A spokesperson for Meadowhall said: “The wellbeing of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority and we have extra measures in place to help keep everybody safe. We have new signage to help guide everyone and our security and community policing teams are on hand to help.
“In the vast majority of cases our customers are happy to be reminded of the safety measures by our team.
“In this instance, the customer refused to follow the guidance and was escorted off the premises.”
Confirming the incident, South Yorkshire Police said they have launched an investigation after receiving reports that a man had been assaulted. The man was also issued with a fixed penalty notice.
A spokesperson said: "At around 10.45am officers responded to reports of a man being escorted off the premises by security staff for failing to comply with Covid regulations. The man was issued with a fixed penalty notice.
"On attendance, officers received reports that a man had been assaulted. Enquiries are ongoing."
But Michael said the incident has left him with an arm injury and a ripped coat and he is now considering a legal action against the Meadowhall management.
Sheffield is currently under Tier 3 lockdown and, as a result, there have been several rule changes at Meadowhall including restrictions on food and drink.
Its website stated that the members of public are barred from consuming food on site and face masks need to be worn at all times as cafes and restaurants are open for takeaway and delivery.
Sit-down eating areas such as the Oasis Dining Quarter are currently closed and shoppers are forbidden from eating any food inside.
Michael said he wasn’t aware of the rule changes.
"This could have been totally avoided should I have been approached in a different manner...I got verbal as it went on through being anxious, then it became a point of trying to be put on the floor by five officers at one point.”