A TROWBRIDGE man has launched a campaign to encourage more shoppers to wear face masks after suffering a torrent of abuse.

Alan Drew, 70, of Proper Job is speaking out after suffering a torrent of abuse from some people who don’t or won't wear a face mask.

He said many people visiting the Proper Job store in Yeoman's Way refuse to comply with government guidelines to wear a face mask and get angry when asked.

Mr Drew who works as a supervisor at the store, says he has suffered “loads of abuse” from shoppers who enter without wearing a mask.

“A lot of customers come in wearing a face mask but some don’t and when you ask that they put one on, some of them say they are exempt.

“But there are a few people - both men and women - who give us loads of abuse, saying that we have got no right to challenge them.

“There was one lady who was really abusive and all we were doing was asking her to wear a face mask.

“If people say they are exempt, we just let them carry on. We don’t pursue it because of the amount of abuse we get.”

Mr Drew, from Trowbridge, who has worked at Proper Job for the past three and a half years, says the abuse is not just confined to their team of around a dozen staff.

He says he is aware that other Trowbridge retail stores have also suffered abuse from customers.

Mr Drew added: “We’re not being nasty, we just trying to encourage people to be more aware and to help control this coronavirus.

“The problem is that some people are being complacent and think it doesn’t apply to them, while others just don’t believe that the virus exists.

“We are just trying to get the message over to people that prevention is better than a cure.

“We are urging people to help keep the virus under control and to be more responsible towards other people.”

The rules about the compulsory wearing of face masks while shopping were introduced on July 24 at the end of the first coronavirus lockdown.

Shoppers were required to wear face masks from August 8, following new guidance issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Police were told to issue fines of up to £100 for those caught breaking the rules.

But some of the larger stores, such as Asda, the Co-op, Lidl, Tesco and Sainsbury, said the rules were unenforceable and it was not their responsibility to 'police' customers.

They encourage shoppers to wear masks wherever possible but do not challenge people who don't wear them.

Tom Ironside, of the British Retail Consortium, the trade body for high street retailers, said that while shops are doing everything they can to support the safety regulations, it is up to the police to enforce the rules.

"The ultimate responsibility remains with customers who must ensure that they wear a face covering when going into stores," he added.