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Coronavirus / Concern some drinkers are being a ‘bit lax’ with face coverings

THE DIFFICULTIES around policing face covering rules in pubs and venues has been raised amid concern that some people are being “a bit lax” with wearing masks after a few drinks.

Speaking at a meeting of Shetland’s licensing board on Monday, Lerwick councillor Stephen Leask suggested this may be the case for large gatherings like hen and stag parties and weddings.

He said inhibitions tend to decrease after a few drinks.

“I think it’s important that when they are getting around the bar they’re adhering to the guidelines about mask wearing,” Leask said.

He questioned if it was worth reminding people about the guidance.

Leask added that the issue had also been spoken about recently at a meeting of Shetland’s licensing forum.

People in Scotland do not have to wear a face covering in a hospitality setting if they are drinking or eating – or dancing in a nightclub – but they are required to if they are moving about for example to the toilet.

Police sergeant Katy Duncan, who covers liquor and civic licensing in the Highlands and Islands, agreed with Leask and said there was an onus on both the premises and patrons.

But she said it can be hard to police, when people for instance can stand at the bar and chat with a drink in hand without having to wear a face covering.

“It’s probably very difficult to keep on top of that,” she said.

Duncan said if a premise is having difficulty with people with wearing face coverings the police will often have a gentle word with the venue.

Enforcement is a “last resort” – with a focus more on engaging and educating.

Board chairman Cecil Smith also said after “two to three wines in” some may find it harder to stick by the guidance.

The issue was raised during a discussion around the last year in a licensing sense for Shetland.

A report to members from the police said that the “vast majority of licensed premises have fully complied with all the regulations”.