Sheffield bakery appeals to customers after staff are abused for enforcing mask rules

The owners of a popular Sheffield bakery have appealed for ‘kindness’ following daily reports of staff being abused by people who take offence at being asked to wear a mask.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 3:55 pm

Martha Brown, founder of Forge Bakehouse, on Abbeydale Road, said that she regularly comes in to work and is told by her front of house staff that they have been abused by people who have forgotten to wear a mask and are upset that the business does not make an exception for them and let them in.

And in recent weeks, as people’s attitudes to the lockdown have relaxed and restrictions in Sheffield have eased, she said that the frequency of the ‘unpleasant interactions’ has increased.

Martha said: “We are at the end of our tether. In recent weeks we have been on the receiving end of more and more unpleasant interactions with customers regarding masks; in the shop, by email, on social media and now on Tripadvisor.

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Martha Brown, owner of Forge Bakehouse

"Earlier on it was people who didn’t believe in wearing masks and thought it was a conspiracy, but more recently it’s been people who have forgotten one.

"That is something everybody has done, and it’s really annoying. Often it is sensible people who have had jabs and get tested, and they ask us to make an exception.

"But if we make an exception for one person we have to make an exception for everybody.

Forge Bakehouse on Abbeydale Road.

"We are following the rules, but some people have been laying it on our staff who have had a difficult year and are just doing their best and that’s just not on.

“Our staff wear masks for eight hours a day, we are only asking customers to wear one for the two minutes you are in the shop.”

The rules in Forge Bakehouse are the same as any other shop in England at the moment – face masks must be worn by anybody who is able to wear one.

If somebody comes to Forge Bakehouse and does not have a mask, the staff will reserve the items they want until they come back with a mask.

And masks are now available to purchase at the shop, however Martha stressed the decision to do that was ‘for the benefit of staff so they don’t constantly have to defend the business’ position’.

Martha added: “I think since April 12 people have been relaxing, and I feel that from May 17 [when the latest relaxations around indoor mixing were introduced] they are going to start behaving like it is the 21 of June.

"The rules in shops have not changed, and face coverings still need to be worn.”