Borough Market in London has become the first outdoor space in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of face masks.
From Monday, customers and vendors at the food and drink market will face a £50 fine if they do not wear a face covering in and around the stalls.
The rule can be enforced thanks to the market’s own set of bylaws passed in Parliament, which date back to before the Victorian era and have been updated to reflect the pandemic.
Kate Howell, director of development at the London venue, said: “I think we just have to be responsible.”
Ms Howell said: “We’re open as an essential retailer but we want to keep it safe for everybody.”
Market organisers have encouraged mask-wearing and distancing throughout the pandemic, but with rising infection rates in the capital and the third national lockdown in England, they felt they had to go further.
Ms Howell explained: “Whilst we’ve done everything we can to politely encourage people to wear masks and keep to social distancing and keep the space safe, now is the time to really show our intent.”
She went on: “We’ve got to a stage where we feel as responsible landlords that, actually given we do have these bylaws, in our reckoning that we’re able to say, ‘We’re going to make this mandatory’.”
Pre-lockdown, the market welcomed thousands of visitors each day, and Ms Howell joined other industry voices in describing the hospitality sector as “really hard hit by this whole period”.
“It’s perhaps been the less than clear messaging at times that has had a huge impact on trade,” she added.
Her comments come after the Government’s top medic suggested there could be times when there is “logic” for wearing a mask outdoors.