Mum upset by Apple Store's approach on face masks at Meadowhall, as people in Sheffield react to new rules
Pam Robinson has every reason to understand the importance of wearing a face mask.
That is because Pam, from Wadsley Bridge, is one of the hundreds in Sheffield who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus during the pandemic.
Facemasks have been compulsory again since Tuesday November 30, as the Government reacted to concerns over the emergence of the new Omicron variant.
But while many in the city, like Pam, have told The Star why they are passionate in backing the wearing of masks, some who are exempt are upset about the way they are treated, and journeys on buses in the city often reveal many people travelling with no mask.
Pam was among a number of residents approached by The Star for their views on the return to masks.
I lost my partner to Covid, so I agree with all the rules
She said: “I totally agree with it. I don’t think they should have stopped it in the first place, and the reason why is I lost my partner to Covid, so I agree with all the rules actually.”
She said she thought people who did not think it was a good idea to wear masks in shops were idiots.
"Everyone should be made to do it,” she added.
Barrie Daykin, from Brincliffe, agreed with mask wearing.
He said: “I don’t mind at all, because I’ve been doing it for so long that I just don’t mind doing it and carrying on until this pandemic’s over.”
He said he had already been wearing masks for most shops and on the buses.
Angela Ford, of Manor Park agreed. She said: “I think it’s right that they do so.
"It’s protecting again. There’s obviously an issue come on so we’ve got to be aware of that and got to do it.”
Doug Harvey, from Maltby, thought the requirement to wear masks indoors should never have been dropped.
He said: “I think it’s not the right policy, because I think it never should have been stopped in the first place. Masks should have been worn in every single place indoor areas full stop , and we never should have stopped doing so, therefore it’s a halfwitted policy from a halfwitted Government. He said he thought masks should be worn everywhere large numbers of people were gathering, and for indoor hospitality.
Joel Wilde, from the city centre, believes the city had become complacent.
He said: “I think its excellent, because I just think everybody, since they have not been mandatory, everybody has just become complacent, and people are acting like the pandemic has ended. It hasn’t. So I think the British have become very ignorant, and although I don’t like the Conservative Party, I think this step to re-introduce face masks, particularly because of the new variant, is excellent. I welcome it.”
Meadowhall Apple Store ‘tells exempt boy he must be served outside due to facemask’
But not everyone welcomes the new focus on masks.
Mum Julie Goodwin, from Handsworth, wears a mask herself in shops – but says her 16-year-old son Adam is exempt due to his autism.
However, she has already had a bad experience since the compulsory masks returned, when she took him to the Apple store at Meadowhall.
She wants people to be aware that there are people who are exempt from wearing masks. Wearing a mask causes her son distress because of his condition.
She said: "I have a 16 year old son who is Autistic – he is obsessed with Apple.
“I took him to the Apple store in Meadowhall for him to purchase a watch. While we were in the store I was wearing a face mask and my son, who is exempt, wasn't. He had his lanyard.
"While we were in the store looking, not one member of staff approached us to say he needed a covering. When I finally approached a female worker she told me my son had to wear a mask or a visor. I told her he is exempt due to the stress it causes him and that she can not make him wear a mask.”
She said she was told he would have to be served outside the shop.
She said: “I was absolutely disgusted with this. It caused me stress and upset and also upset my son.
"We found a security guard who helped us and was absolutely fantastic when we went back for my son to get what he wanted. We ended up being served in a corridor."
She said in the end, the store gave her son a free charger for the upset that had been caused.
Apple has been approached for comment but has yet to respond.
Julie said that other shops have been fine about her son’s exemption from compulsory mask wearing inside shops.
She said: “He’s over the moon that he’s got his watch, but I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Facemasks on buses
Regarding passengers travelling on buses with facemasks, Sheffield’s main bus operators, First and Stagecoach, referred the Star to a statement by the industry organisation, the Confederation of Passenger Transport.
It said: “Operators will be communicating to passengers that it is now a legal requirement to wear a face covering unless exempt and reminding them of their responsibility to comply with this change of approach, which the police will enforce. As they have throughout the pandemic, we expect passengers will work with operators to ensure passengers can travel safely.
"People can still have the confidence to travel by bus with measures to improve ventilation and tools such as apps to allow customers to see how busy their bus is in place.”