SHOPPERS and shopkeepers in the district have given their views on face masks, after it became compulsory for customers to wear coverings in shops and food outlets, on Friday. 

A wide variety of colours and designs were on display in Hexham, with a combination of home-made and shop-bought reusable, and disposable masks on show. 

While most people were in favour of the new rule, some said it should have been introduced earlier in the fight against coronavirus. 

"It's four months too late," said Haydon Bridge man Andy O'Riordan. "But better late than never, and I've seen a lot of people out and about in Hexham with masks on today, which is a good thing.

"I think wearing masks probably heightens everybody's awareness of the situation, and the need for everyone to do their bit."

Barber Kenny Thomas, of David B. on St Mary's Chare, suggested that Hexham was quieter than usual on Friday.

He explained: "Maybe some people are still in the process of finding themselves a mask, but from my point of view, I feel safer knowing people coming in for a hair cut are wearing a face covering."

After having his hair cut, customer Dan Macmillan said he was in support of masks, but added that the ruling created more questions than answers. 

"It's definitely come too late in my view," he said. "If the experts say it's the right thing to do this now, then fair enough. I would just ask, if we're introducing this now, why didn't we back in March?

"It's not easy to breathe in a mask during hot weather, but I'll do whatever is right in the name of safety."

Some shopkeepers wore see-through visors, including Janet Hardy, of the Card Shop, in Hexham Market Place. 

She said: "As a retailer, I've been told I don't have to wear a face mask. That doesn't seem right to me. I don't want to be telling customers to wear a mask if I am not doing so myself. 

"We all want to keep everyone safe, so i feel as though it's equally important that shopkeepers and shop workers wear masks."

Carrie Page, of electrical shop Old & New in the Market Place, said: "I don't think you can say it's too late. We have to do the right thing from today, and if it keeps people safe, then it's definitely in our best interests."