A THUG who assaulted a shopkeeper after a row about wearing a face mask is being hunted by police.

It happened around lunch time on Sunday, September 13, when a man with a scarf pulled over his face entered the Nisa shop on Coatsworth Road.

He immediately approached the sole staff member, grabbed him by his shirt, pulled him over the counter and punched him twice.

The man then left the store and fled the area on foot.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Thankfully the victim wasn’t badly injured but he did suffer minor cuts and bruising.

“We are carrying out an investigation and believe it could be linked to an altercation the victim had with another customer minutes before.

“The staff member, who is exempt from wearing a mask due to underlying health conditions, had asked a man to put on a mask.

“He refused and left the store after a verbal altercation, moments before this unprovoked attack took place."

“No attempt was made to take anything so we don’t believe it to be a robbery but we are keeping an open mind about the motive for the assault.

“This type of violence is completely unacceptable and we are determined to identify them and put them before a criminal court.”

He is described as Asian, in his 20s or 30s, of slim build and wearing a grey and black tracksuit. He was also wearing a white patterned scarf over his face.

Anyone who knows the man, or has information that may help police, is asked to contact 101 quoting log 530 13/09/20.