'Let’s get on with it': Wearing of face masks ‘our new way of living’

'Let’s get on with it': Wearing of face masks ‘our new way of living’

John Hartnett, manager of Blackpool Shopping Centre, Cork, who has welcomed the new guidance on the wearing of face coverings in retail settings.

Manager of Blackpool Shopping Centre, John Hartnett, has welcomed the new guidance on face coverings and said it is a “new way of living” which people should embrace.

The wearing of face coverings is being made mandatory in shops, retail settings, and shopping centres. Following a Cabinet meeting last week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said regulations will take some time to draft but added people should start obeying the guidance immediately.

The regulations, with details on enforcement and penalties, are in the process of being drafted.

Mr Hartnett said that staff in the shopping centre, particularly those working with food, those in close contact with customers, and those who are protective of a vulnerable person in their home, have been wearing masks throughout and this is not seen as being a big change.

Blackpool Shopping Centre, various outlet Managers with their face coverings.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Blackpool Shopping Centre, various outlet Managers with their face coverings.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Staff working with food, such as in the Butcher’s Block, O’Briens, and Roosters Piri Piri, and those in close contact with customers, such as in Peter Mark hair salon, Blackpool Barbers, and pharmacies, have been wearing the appropriate PPE.

Mr Hartnett said that, to date, customers have been doing what they have been asked and have stayed local to support local which “benefited Blackpool enormously” and for which he is very grateful.

He said that this next step of wearing a face covering to “eradicate the virus” is not a lot to ask of people but said that he also understands that it is uncomfortable for some and that “it is a different way of doing things”.

“If this is what we need to do, how bad,” he said.

“We’ve done the hard work and God knows there are families who have gone through a hell of a lot worse than what we’re being asked to do in wearing a mask.

“I know it’s uncomfortable, and I know it’s a different way of doing things and that people have different opinions on it; I understand that but it’s the next necessary step to take.”

He said that, initially, customers who had underlying health conditions or customers who were protecting a vulnerable family member were wearing face coverings in the shopping centre and that it is now becoming more common.

“It’s certainly getting much more common and we’re all learning together, and you even see children wearing it and it’s not compulsory for people under the age of 13,” he said.

“It’s lovely to see family units coming in and trying to do their very best.”

Blackpool Shopping Centre's best customer, Siobhan Egan, Lower Dublin Hill, with John Hartnett, Manager Blackpool Shopping Centre, wearing their face coverings.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Blackpool Shopping Centre's best customer, Siobhan Egan, Lower Dublin Hill, with John Hartnett, Manager Blackpool Shopping Centre, wearing their face coverings.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Mr Hartnett believes that people will police the wearing of masks themselves and said that it will not be down to staff to enforce itor to kick anyone out of the shopping centre, but rather to advise customers.

“Leo Varadkar, a few weeks ago in his last address, said that we are into a phase of personal responsibility,” he said.

“From now on we just have to take the bull by the horn and do what we have to do. Whether we go into a restaurant and spend 90 minutes, whether it’s going into the doctors, going into the school, going into the office, going into the shopping centre environment, we’re going to be wearing face masks and that’s our new way of living.

“So let’s get on with it and try and embrace it,” he said.

More in this section

Sponsored Content