Moment ASDA shopper is handcuffed and ‘pinned to the floor’ by police in row over wearing mask
- Ryan Farrell, 27, was arrested for wearing face mask ‘around his neck’ on Tuesday
- He was leaving ASDA in Birkenhead when he stopped to buy tobacco at kiosk
- Claims he was pinned to the floor and handcuffed before being given £100 fine
- Wearing face masks in supermarkets and shops is compulsory across the UK
An ASDA shopper claims he was handcuffed and ‘pinned to the floor’ by police for not wearing his face mask correctly.
Ryan Farrell, 27, was arrested for wearing his mask ‘around his neck’ on Tuesday afternoon after finishing his shopping in Birkenhead.
The father-of-one was first asked to fix his mask at around 4pm when he stopped at a kiosk to buy tobacco on the way out of the shop.
Mr Farrell was repeatedly approached by police who asked him for his details – but he refused to provide them. He was then arrested.
He claims he was pinned to the floor and handcuffed in front of his partner – who filmed the scuffle – and one-year-old son before being fined £100 and banned from the store.
Police have launched a country-wide crackdown on shoppers who refuse to wear face coverings following reports that staff are receiving abuse from Britons who claim to be exempt.
Ryan Farrell, 27, was arrested for wearing his mask ‘around his neck’ on Tuesday afternoon after finishing his shopping in Birkenhead. He said he was handcuffed and ‘pinned to the floor’ by police (pictured)
Wearing face masks in supermarkets and shops is compulsory across the UK and enforcement of face masks is the responsibility of the police, not retailers.
In England, the police can issue a £200 fine to someone breaking face covering rules.
In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, a £60 fine can be imposed. Repeat offenders face bigger fines.
Mr Farrell insists he was wearing his mask correctly throughout his shop and only moved it when it caused his glasses to steam up.
However, Merseyside Police claim that Mr Farrell lowered his mask, refused to give his details and then resisted arrest.
The father-of-one was first asked to fix his mask at around 4pm when he stopped at a kiosk to buy tobacco on the way out of the shop. Mr Farrell was repeatedly approached by police who asked him for his details – but he refused to provide them. He was then arrested (pictured)
Mr Farrell said: ‘I convinced my partner to meet me after work to pick up some shopping and we wore our masks the entire way around the store.
‘As we were leaving I went up to the kiosk to get some tobacco and my mask was steaming my glasses up.
‘I pulled it down slightly to let the steam clear and a police officer who was close to the door gestured over to me and told me to put it back on.
‘I put it right back up my nose, bought my tobacco and went to leave.
‘As I was leaving, the officer said: “If I have to speak to you about your mask again I will arrest you”.
‘So I said “no worries, I did” and went to carry on out of the store.’
Mr Farrell said the officer grabbed his coat and asked for his details, which he refused to give.
Mr Farrell’s partner filmed him on the ground with three police officers around him. In the clip, the police officers fix Mr Farrell’s mask, stand him up and frogmarch him out of the shop (pictured)
Facemasks are mandatory in store, unless the shopper is medically exempt from wearing them. Guards at the entrance enforce the rules.
There are also plastic safety screens, hand sanitiser and signs urging customers to socially distance.
The store also has specially-timed slots for elderly or vulnerable people to buy their goods.
Today the store told MailOnline insisted that guards had been present throughout the pandemic but more had been sent to stores that ‘needed extra help’.
Morrisons have told guards to refuse entry to shoppers who have no medical reason for not wearing a facemask.
Some stores have had guards throughout the pandemic but these were rolled out to all locations as of today.
They also have a specialist next-day delivery service for those who cannot get to a shop in person.
The shop also has an NHS priority time the key workers can go in to buy food.
Tesco today joined Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in banning customers without masks and bringing in security guards to enforce the rules.
Today the store told MailOnline security guards had attended stores throughout the pandemic but more had now been recruited.
It also has priority hours for key workers as well as limits on some items for delivery.
Marks & Spencer
M&S has hand sanitising as well as one-way systems in place and a facemask rule.
Larger shops have restricted the purchase of non-essential goods.
There is also a booking process to let people reserve a slot instore to go shopping. MailOnline has contacted M&S, and all the stores listed below, for their current arrangements as well as if and when they changed.
Asda, like others, has a rule for facemasks unless there is a medical exemption announced by the customer.
They also have an app that lets shoppers wait in a digital queue in their cars for a slot to go instore.
Asda also say they have put a protective film on basket and trolley grips that kills bacteria.
Waitrose says facemasks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one.
Marshals are at the entrances to its stores to check people are wearing mask and are shopping alone.
Floor-markers help customers to follow social distancing while people are asked to keep two metres in queues.
The officer then told him he was being arrested.
Mr Farrell added: ‘I didn’t want to give my details because I hadn’t done anything wrong and when he grabbed me I tried to pull away.
‘I was startled and I didn’t know what to do so I tried to get him away from me.
‘He then put my hands behind my back and pushed me onto the floor.’
Mr Farrell’s partner filmed him on the ground with three police officers around him.
In the clip, she is heard shouting ‘no need for that’ and accusing the police of ‘bullying him for no reason’.
At one point she shouts: ‘No need for that in front of the baby.’
The police officers then fix Mr Farrell’s mask, stand him up and frogmarch him out of the shop. He is issued him with a £100 Covid fine for breaching regulations.
As he leaves the store, his partner asks ‘where are you taking him’ before telling one officer: ‘There’s no need for that, it’s plainly bullying. No need. He’s done nothing whatsoever.’
A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: ‘The gentleman was seen by an officer to enter the ASDA store in Birkenhead wearing his face mask around his neck.
‘When asked by the officer to put on the face mask he pulled up the mask and walked away but was then seen to lower it again.
‘He was advised by the officer to put the mask on properly or he would receive a fine.
‘The officer attempted to engage with the gentleman to explain why he had been spoken to about his mask and was asked for his name in order to record the advice, which he refused to give.
‘He was advised if he refused to give his details he would be arrested. As the officer attempted to arrest him the man resisted arrest and was eventually safely handcuffed on the floor.
‘He was taken out of the front of the store where he was given a fixed penalty notice under Coronavirus regulations and de-arrested.’
Mr Farrell said that the incident was ‘extremely upsetting’ for his partner who had hardly left the house over the last year in order to protect their one-year-old son.
He added: ‘My son suffers with respiratory problems and almost died about a year ago, so we are very wary about putting him at risk.
‘I always wear my mask because I wouldn’t forgive myself if he got sick again and my partner has been very wary about going out, so this was extremely upsetting.
‘The whole incident escalated very quickly and it was embarrassing for us all.
‘I have never been in trouble with the police and don’t want to cause any problems with them.’
Mr Farrell was also told by the store’s security guard that he was banned for life.
A spokesperson for Asda confirmed that Mr Farrell had been banned from the store.
Merseyside Police added: ‘The rules are well known by everyone now, and Merseyside Police supported by the vast majority of the public will not accept, blatant and flagrant attempts to disregard them through individual selfishness that puts lives at risk.’
ASDA is one of several supermarkets to reintroduced bouncers at the door in all stores to ensure customers are wearing face coverings and socially distancing.
The most recent figures showed police officers in England have now handed out 28,744 fines since the start of lockdown in March, with 80 per cent going to flouters aged between 18 and 39.
A maskless shopper seen this month in a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys, said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot’
Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon this month. There are various exemptions from having to wear a face mask – it is unclear if any of these apply to the customers
Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this month. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth
Cressida Dick this month insisted officers would come to the aid of supermarket staff if shoppers became ‘aggressive’ after being told to wear a mask.
How supermarkets could be the most common place for people to be exposed to Covid
Supermarkets may be the most common place where people in England are exposed to the coronavirus, official data suggests.
NHS Test and Trace workers ask Covid-positive patients about where they went in the days before they developed symptoms.
Around 150,000 ‘events’ were recorded in the most recent week of data, which ended on January 3 – before the third lockdown kicked in.
Roughly a third of the activities listed were ‘shopping’ – which was the highest proportion of all of the locations considered, which include hospitals, schools and care homes.
But this is because supermarkets are one of the only shops allowed to stay open in England’s third national lockdown.
Stores have put in place Covid secure measures including regular cleaning, hand sanitisers at the entrance and only allowing a set number of shoppers inside.
Experts at PHE today insisted their data did not suggest supermarkets were at the centre of coronavirus transmission in the UK, saying it does not prove where someone was infected with the disease.
Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, previously said ‘it is unsurprising’ that supermarkets feature strongly when people are asked where they have visited – because most businesses have had to shut their doors.
Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, ASDA, Waitrose and M&S have now reintroduced bouncers at the door in all stores to ensure customers are wearing face coverings and socially distancing.
Exemptions to the face mask rule apply to children under the age of 11 and people who cannot wear a face covering due to a mental or physical illness.
People who need to speak to or assist someone who is lip reading, or needs clear sound or facial expressions to communicate, are also exempt.
Carrying an exemption card or badge is a ‘personal choice’ and ‘not required by law’, according to the government.
It states that if you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a mask, then you ‘do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this’ and ‘do not need to show an exemption card’.
West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth warned that there were not enough officers to ‘stand in every store’ and it was up to the supermarkets themselves to enforce the rules.
But speaking later, Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist supermarket staff if customers became ‘obstructive and aggressive’ when they were told they must wear a face covering.
She also said it was ‘preposterous’ people couldn’t know rules as vowed to continue wider crackdown.
Bouncers were in place at the start of the first lockdown in March to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, but began to vanish as the threat posed by Covid-19 waned during the summer, leading to an increasingly ‘lax’ attitude from shoppers who were increasingly seen maskless.
Mr Booth said officers would only intervene if ‘other offences were committed’, such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive.
‘If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Supermarkets may be the most common place where people in England are exposed to the coronavirus, official data suggests.
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