INDEPENDENT traders and shoppers have welcomed the new rule that requires masks to be worn by customers in stores.

The new rule means people not wearing a face covering whilst in a shop could face a £100 fine, from July 24.

Sue Bishop, owner of Swan Boutique in Friar Street, says she is all for the law.

She said: “I think for everybody to stay safe and for us to conquer this pandemic once and for all, this is a necessary move. We should have been wearing masks all along. They are really, really important.

“I don’t think it will affect trading here, in fact we sell them and they are flying off the shelves. I have just had to order lots more in.

“Once everybody starts wearing them, it won’t feel so alien. It will just become the norm.”

Daniel Higgott, of Insitu furniture in Friar Street, also said he doesn’t believe trading will suffer. The salesman said: “I really don’t see it affecting us that much.

“We wear our masks when we have customers in store and at least 25 percent of people wear a mask when they come to visit.

“If it slows the spread of infection it can only be a positive thing.”

However, traders at a city centre gallery say they fear the shopping experience will change as a result.

Terry Goodwin-Jones, owner of The Kings Gallery in New Street, said: “I think it makes people look like bank robbers. Sometimes I have regular customers coming in and because of the mask I can’t for the life of me figure out who they are.

“As a gallery the experience is quite different. It is not a simple transaction like at a chemist, for example.

“We enjoy seeing our customers' facial expressions and having discussions with them - something that will be very difficult through a face covering. In all honesty, I would prefer people not to wear them. However, if it makes people feel safe, and gives them more confidence to come into town to shop then that can only be a good thing.”