AS restrictions are eased once again, and the nation looks forward to ‘Freedom Day’ here is what some businesses are saying about masks.

Masks will no longer be required to be worn by law in shops and on transport, it will now be down to the business and the individual to choose what their policy will be.

The Northern Echo spoke to several shopping centres across Teesside to see what their policies were.

A spokesperson from the Parkway Centre in Coulby Newham said: “We will be updating our tannoy system with the following message: We would like to remind customers that the use of face coverings is recommended to protect yourself and others throughout the centre, thank you for keeping everyone safe.

“Also, management, security and cleaning team will still be wearing face masks for the foreseeable future, with various posts across social media and posters at the entrance /exit points welcoming shoppers to wear masks.  Each shop will have their own policy dependant on guidance from their Head Office.”

Middlesbrough’s Cleveland Centre manager Graeme Skillen said: “While we can’t enforce the wearing of masks, we do recommend that people wear a face covering when in a busy, crowded environment for the safety of themselves and others.”

A spokesperson for NewRiver that manages the Hill Street Centre in Middlesbrough said: “The government has announced that national Covid restrictions are due to end on 19th July 2021, but we know that Covid will not end on this date. We will continue to operate in a cautious and safe way at our centre to help protect both our customers and our staff, and we will therefore operate with the following recommendations from July 19, in addition to any Government guidelines.

“We will recommend that face coverings continue to be worn, but this will not be statutory. It will be personal choice whether one wants to wear a face covering. We will also retain access to hand gels and sanitisers for visitors to use.”

In Stockton businesses are also advising the wearing of masks as cases of Covid are growing in the Teesside area.
A spokesperson from Castlegate Shopping Centre in Stockton said: “At Castlegate, whilst it’s not mandatory we will be recommending that people continue to wear face coverings in the centre due to the rising cases in the local area,

“We will be pushing out this message across our social media, In Mall radio and across our Tv screens in the centre.

“Our team is there to support our customers whilst shopping with us to keep them and others safe. The retailers will be following their own guidance set out from their Head offices. We will fully support this as a centre.

“Over at Wellington Square again we will be following the government’s strategy and supporting the individual retailer’s guidance.”

Teesside’s rate of Covid is rising rapidly with more wards in James Cook hospital being converted to accommodate Covid patients.