BUSINESS bosses fear customers will become “rude and angry” if they are confronted and told to wear a face mask in shops.

They spoke after the Government ordered shoppers to wear face coverings in shops from July 24 - or face a £100 fine.

It will be up to police to dish out penalties and not business owners or shop workers, although they are being asked to encourage customers to comply.

Misha Patel, 22, a sales assistant at Bargain Booze in Pitsea, said: “I think it’s a good thing but knowing people in this area I don’t think they are going to follow this. I think people could become rude and angry if we ask them to wear a mask.

“I think it’s a good move but it will be a lot of aggravation for us to enforce it. I would not mind doing it when I’m doing my shopping.”

Emma Dadswell, 28, director of Toys N Tuck, in Southend, said: “I understand why it’s being done but I think it’s taken a long time to come to this decision and now there’s going to be further delay until it’s brought it.

“I think it’s going to put us in an awkward position in terms of enforcement, we can ask people but we can’t make them do it. I think it could put people off coming to shops.”

Joan Tiney, 69, chairman of Southend Seafront Traders’ Association said: “I think it would have been a positive move if it was brought in at the start of the outbreak but I can’t see the point in bringing this in now.”

Suzanne Gloyne, Southend Business Improvement District manager, added: “I think it’s going to be a really positive step for the town and will being in more people who have been nervous about going out.

“I think we do need a bit more guidance about the enforcement of this as I don’t think the shops should have to deal with this as they have enough to sort with the social distancing.

“A lot of work has been done by businesses to help make customers feel safe in the town and businesses so far and anything thing else that helps to reassure the customers is a good thing.”

Dennis Baldry, manager at the Victoria shopping centre in Southend, said: “It will be interesting to see how the public react to this change.

“Our staff already have masks but these will be worn while they are in the centre and as a centre we will encourage our visitors to comply with this new regulation.”