Independent shops in Swindon are taking a zero tolerance approach shoppers who aren’t wearing masks.

The Advertiser spoke to a number of stores and the majority said customers without masks will no longer be allowed in.

Today is the first day members of the public must wear them in shops or public buildings as a way of preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Survivor, the Women’s Aid store on The Parade, said it would have a staff member at the door to stop people coming in.

Volunteer manager Carol Gibbon said: “We won’t allow anyone in who’s not wearing a mask unless they have medical evidence that they don’t need one.

“We’ve got a really good team here and I think people will be supported.

“People are used to putting hand gel on now and this is just another step.

“Most people have been buying masks this week, we’ve even been selling some. We’re as geared up as we can be and with politeness and patience people will be understanding.

“But we won’t be tolerating people coming in without a mask.”

There is a similar policy at Firestorm Game on Victoria Road where staff member James Manley said most regular customers have already agreed to wear masks, but staff can't make people.

He explained: “All of our staff here are wearing masks and we’re intending to turn people away if they’re not wearing masks.

“We’ve been discussing masks with customers who come in and we tend to have a consistent base.

“All of our regulars have said they’re okay with wearing masks so it’s not a big problem.”

The store added that staff will politely ask customers to wear masks but it is not able to police everyone.

One store has said it’s not in the position to turn away customers.

Lee Mulholland, co-owner of the Something Different gift shop in the Brunel Shopping Centre, said he couldn’t afford to lose the business.

He said: “We’ll be following government guidelines but realistically, I’m an independent family-run business and I’ve had no trade for the past three months.

“I can’t afford to turn people away. It’s the same as if someone has a cold during the winter, as much as I’d want to refuse the cash I can’t.”

And when it comes to how masks will be policed inSwindon BID, the organisation that manages the business improvement district in the town centre, has said it is up to each shop to enforce the rule.

Mark Rogers, BID manager, said: “We have shared the government guidelines with our businesses in regards to face coverings but it will be down to the individual store policies on how they manage this.

“Where appropriate, our street ambassadors have been wearing face coverings since returning to their regular patrols to protect themselves and the public and we hope that people will follow suit and adhere to the new laws set in place.”