By Ben Goddard
A MAN was arrested in Sainsbury’s after failing to wear a face mask or give police his details.
The man, who has not been identified, filmed the incident before uploading it to Youtube.
When challenged about his exemption to wear a mask by a police office the man refused to give his details and was arrested.
West Mercia Police Superintendent for Hereford, Ross Jones said he was satisfied that the officers acted in accordance with their powers.
“However, it is important to note that there are a number of exemptions around wearing face masks and carrying an exemption card, badge or lanyard is not required by law.
“The officers have been reminded about this element of the regulations.
“The Government put the Covid-19 regulations in place to help prevent the spread of the virus and our first priority is to protect the public and help reduce the rates of transmission in Herefordshire.
“Where a potential breach has been committed, officers will ask for a person’s details as part of our conversation with them.
“If they refuse and we reasonably believe they have committed an offence then an arrest can be made.
“It is very rare for this to be necessary and the majority of people with are understanding of why they have been approached when not wearing a mask and the matter is quickly resolved.
“In this instance the man did give his details once at the station and was reported for a breach of Covid legislation.”
On the video the police officer is heard saying: “We are enforcing the regulations and masks are part of that regulation.”
The man who videoed the incident is heard telling the officer that he is exempt.
The police officer, who identifies himself as being from Hereford police station, asks the man to see his exemption certificate.
The man refuses and also refuses to give his details to the police officer stating that he hasn’t broken the law.
“I’ve been shopping here for six or seven months and I’m exempt from wearing a mask,” said the man.
“You don’t know what I’ve been through. Yet you are forcing me and trying to fine me for something I’ve not done wrong.
“You are discriminating against me for not wearing a mask. You’re only legally allowed to take my details if I’ve broken the law.”
The police officer says the man is breaking the law for refusing to hand his details over.
A Herefordshire Council member of staff is also on video supporting the police officer and encouraging the man to give his name and address.
The police officer says he is “suspecting” the man does not have an exemption certificate.
The man says he would provide his name and details if the policeman can tell him what law he has broken.
The pair are then joined by two further police officers. One of them also asks to see his ‘exemption certificate’, and adds that he has broken the law for not wearing his face mask.
The man responds that he does not have one.
“I have a lanyard, but don’t carry it,” the man adds.
“The Government website clearly state I don’t have to provide that (an exemption certificate) when asked.
“I may chose to provide that if I feel that I’m nervous and I need to, and I do wish I had it now because I am nervous.
“I’ve a dry mouth, I’m under a lot of stress and I do have disabilities.”
The man is then arrested.
What goverment rules say
The Government website says: “By law businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where they are required, for instance using signage.
“If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance.
“Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for their customers.
“People are encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet.
“Premises where face coverings are required should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law.
“The police can take measures if members of the public do not comply with this law without a valid exemption.
If necessary the police have enforcement powers, including issuing fines of £200 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) for the first offence.”
On the Government website under exemption cards, it says: “If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering: you do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this.
“You do not need show an exemption card.
“This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering.
“Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.”