Shopkeepers in Tayside and Fife have urged parents to ensure children wear face mask in stores amid worries about pupils flouting the guidance at lunchtimes.
Pupils who leave school grounds for lunch must wear face coverings in local shops and physically distance from each other.
The issue was highlighted when Dundee pupils were warned against congregating in large crowds and failing to wear face masks in city shops.
“We have had a lot of pupils who are not wearing masks which has made some other customers not feel at ease.
Joanna Casonato, Giacopazzi’s.
However, it is a problem across the country, according to local shop workers who have had problems enforcing the rules.
For many store owners, pupils buying food during lunch hours is a great source of income and while some have had no issues with pupils following the rules others have been less lucky.
Perth and Kinross
One shop near Kinross High School appealed to parents to encourage youngsters to wear masks.
Joanna Casonato, who owns Giacopazzi’s shop and ice cream parlour with husband Franck, said there was a balance to strike for shopkeepers in protecting customers and staff from the virus and not discriminating against those unable to wear masks for health reasons.
She said: “We have had a lot of pupils who are not wearing masks which has made some other customers not feel at ease.
“I understand this is difficult for parents and we have asked parents to support us.
“The First Minister made it clear that shop workers are not to enforce this and we have customers that have health issues and cannot wear masks.
“It’s difficult because we want to protect the community from the virus but also protect people from discrimination.
“It’s not just school pupils, there are other customers not wearing masks, but again we don’t question them.”
However, she said they were able to maintain distancing in their Kinross and Milnathort stores and added: “We have put other measures in our control in place to protect our staff and customers.”
A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said schools had worked with young people, parents and carers and local businesses to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for the health and wellbeing of themselves and others.
She said: “Young people are expected to follow national guidance about wearing face coverings and observing physical distancing if they do go out of school grounds at lunchtimes and visit local shops and businesses.
“The new national guidance coming into effect from Monday, August 31, which recommends the use of face coverings in secondary schools for pupils and staff when moving around communal areas in school and on all school transport will be communicated to all staff, young people and their parents and carers.
“We understand that there will be some staff and young people who cannot wear a face covering for good reasons and we respect that position.”
In Dundee’s Broughty Ferry, pupils from Grove Academy walk in groups to a variety of city shops, including newsagents, bakeries and supermarkets, while Harris Academy pupils regularly flock to shops on nearby Perth Road.
The pupils had reportedly been congregating in and around the burgh in large groups, not wearing face coverings inside shops.
The school said it had reiterated the rules to pupils and a week later, many pupils appear to be following the guidance.
A shopkeeper from the burgh’s 7 Day News, who did not wish to be named, said he had encountered no issues with children wearing face coverings since they returned to school.
Rector Graham Hutton accompanied pupils and urged parents to emphasise the importance of wearing face coverings following the complaints.
Many pupils are now wearing masks, however the burgh’s Marks and Spencer still sees issues with customers, including pupils, failing to wear a face covering.
One elderly resident, who did not wish to be named, said she felt “unsafe” while doing her shopping.
An M&S spokesperson said: “In line with Scottish Government legislation, customers are required to wear a face mask when shopping unless they are exempt.
“At M&S Broughty Ferry and our other stores, when customers arrive at busier times they will see a greeter who will manage the number of people entering the store to ensure customers and colleagues can practice social distancing and shop with confidence.”
Last week, councillor Stewart Hunter, Dundee City Council children and families convener, urged pupils, staff and parents to follow the guidance to protect the school environment.
He said: “Dundee schools are keenly aware of issues like these and are taking steps to remind pupils of their responsibilities when they are out in the community.
“There has been a huge effort to get our schools ready for the full time return of pupils after nearly five months, and everybody is getting used to young people being in the classroom and outside schools again.
“We all need to do everything we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This includes wearing face coverings when in shops and on regular public transport, and physical distancing.
“That is why advice is being given regularly to our young people around these issues and to stress how important their actions are to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.
“Steps are also taken within schools including staggering of lunches and comprehensive hygiene measures.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to ask parents and families to remember to physically distance when they are dropping off or collecting their children from school.
“We cannot be complacent and everyone has a part to play.”
Youngsters from Viewforth High School walked in groups to Windmill Stores, where they queued up in the convenience shop and newsagent, which also sells takeaway food.
The shop owner, who did not wish to be named, pointed out that he had served the local community during lockdown, making free deliveries, and relied on trade from the pupils.
He said: “When we get the school kids in they make our figures better. The school has told them to wear masks.”
Many pupils, but not all, wore masks as they visited other outlets on nearby Rosslyn Street.
In the school’s weekly newsletter, head teacher Lisa Moore said: “Pupils are encouraged to stay on the school grounds for lunch, however, if they wish to buy lunch at a local shop they should wear a face covering and be aware that service may take longer than normal.”
At the town’s ASDA, pupils from St Andrew’s High School were monitored by staff at the door and all those we saw wore face coverings and walked in small groups.
The school has issued several reminders to senior pupils of the rules, following discussion with the supermarket’s management.
An ASDA spokesman said the branch had had no issues with pupils coming into the store without face coverings or failing to maintain a distance.
He said: “We have had regular communication with the school to work together to continue encouraging pupils to social distance and wear face coverings which, as far as the store is concerned, has been a great success.”
All our children in Fife have been made fully aware of how they are expected to behave when outside the school at lunchtime, particularly during this time.”
Maria Lloyd, Fife Council.
Kirkcaldy East Conservative councillor Richard Watt, suggested the rules for pupils on face masks were contradictory.
He said: “Telling kids they need to wear masks in shops, but don’t in school, is just another example of lazy thinking from Holyrood.
“Either shopkeepers aren’t at risk from kids, or teachers are.
“For Ms Sturgeon the science matters less than headlines, details will be ironed out later.”
For Fife Council, Maria Lloyd, head of education, said: “All our children in Fife have been made fully aware of how they are expected to behave when outside the school at lunchtime, particularly during this time.
“A letter was sent to all parents asking them to remind their children that, if they are leaving school to get their lunch, they must wear a face covering in shops.
“This is a matter for individual business owners to decide if they want to refuse entry.”
People in St Andrews have been respectful with adhering to the rules and I have found that the school kids have not been bad at all.”
Justin Hughes, Blackhorn Burgers.
More than 1,200 pupils returned to Madras College in St Andrews this month and with one of the school’s buildings in the heart of the small town, local businesses were braced for the influx of lunchtime customers.
When asked how the compliant pupils had been in following the guidance on social distancing and the wearing face coverings, there was a largely positive response.
Justin Hughes, owner of Blackhorn Burgers on Church Street, was among those who was full of praise for their behaviour.
He said: “People in St Andrews have been respectful with adhering to the rules and I have found that the school kids have not been bad at all.
“On the whole, I would say we have had no issues. Customers have to wear their mask until they sit down and the kids have been doing that.
“The only thing is that they sit together if they are in a small group but it seems to be fine and we can’t have them all at separate tables.”
Staff at other local businesses, including Korean food venue Oppa and the takeaway Dervish, were also pleased with how pupils were behaving at lunch and other break times.
But employees at the local Subway branch on Market Street have had a slightly more challenging time and have found themselves having to remind pupils of the government guidance.
One Subway supervisor said: “We are operating a one in, one out system and customers have to be two metres apart in the shop.
“The kids are the biggest problem though and I have had to remind them about the two-metre rule and to wear their mask.
“I’ll tell them when I’m here but some of the younger staff might not want to say to them and tell them to get out.”
Lunchtime in Arbroath’s Keptie Street is often busy with pupils from nearby Arbroath High School.
Shop owners have said the vast majority of pupils are wearing face coverings when coming into to order their meal.
However one local resident said the town’s streets can often be overcrowded during lunchtime, especially as children walk to local stores in large groups.
Angus Council has said parents must support schools in encouraging face coverings while pupils are out of the school.
A spokesperson said: “Young people may choose to visit local shops at lunchtime but it’s important they follow national guidelines regarding safety.
“This includes wearing a face covering wherever possible. Please speak with your child/ren so they understand the guidelines.”