A police boss has blasted Boris Johnson‘s announcement that officers will enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks as “absolutely bonkers”.
Mr Johnson said that the current “recommendations” to wear masks will become enforceable by law from August 8.
It comes as masks will also have to be worn in galleries, cinemas and places of worship, as well as in shops and on trains and buses.
But Ken Marsh, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, has hit back, saying that the new policy will be “impossible” for police to enforce.
He told the MailOnline: “They want us to enforce the new rules in these other places now, but next door there might be a pub or a restaurant where people don’t have to wear a mask.
“It doesn’t make any sense, it’s absolutely bonkers.
“How do they want us to enforce it in places of worship? It’s impossible. We’re just veering from one thing to another, almost seemingly on an hourly basis, and it always ends up becoming the police’s problem.”
Mr Marsh also told the publication that while people may be wearing them in big stores, they often wander in and out of small high street shops without them.
“We can’t enforce that,” he continued. “It has to be a collective social effort, we have to do this all together. They are losing the will of the police and the public in terms of what they are expecting from us.”
Face coverings became mandatory on trains, buses, Tubes, coaches, trams, planes and ferries on June 15, with the rules being punishable by a £100 fine.
Last weekend, the rules also came into effect in shops.
However, a dispute quickly erupted between supermarkets and police forces over who was responsible for enforcing the rules – shop staff or police officers.
This week, the British Medical Association said shop staff should be wearing face coverings in the same way that customers are required to.
While staff do not currently have to follow the rules, the BMA said they should also apply to workers to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, unless there are additional mitigations such as the use of barriers or screens.
The BMA said the current situation is “entirely illogical” and that employers should protect their staff and customers by requiring both to wear face coverings in the absence of a government mandate.
The union believes that face coverings should be worn in all settings where physical distancing between people from different “bubbles” is not possible and no other mitigating measures are put in place.
Mr Johnson said on Friday: “Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their best to control the virus.
“But we must keep our discipline and our focus and we cannot be complacent.
“I have asked the Home Secretary to work with the police and others to ensure the rules which are already in place are properly enforced.”
He said this would mean “a greater police presence to ensure face coverings are being worn where this is required”.