The mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops in England could deter customers from booking in store, a travel agency owner believes.
The Westminster government is set to announce whether masks will become compulsory on the high street later this week, after prime minister Boris Johnson said shoppers in England "should be wearing" them.
Face coverings in Scotland are now mandatory in shops, with leaders in Wales and Northern Ireland not ruling out a similar move.
Deben Travel boss Lee Hunt said he thought such a decision would "make communication [with customers] really difficult”.
“I think one of the key selling points of a travel agency is that people can come in and chat to you,” he told TTG’s One Week At A Time.
“It’s people buying from people, that’s what I enjoy most about being in the shop. Meeting people, chatting with them, having a bit of banter where you can – and if face coverings are [made compulsory] I think it will detract from that.”
Hunt said the rule would make agent-client interactions “a challenge” with two-metre social distancing already in place in both its agencies.
He predicted a move to mandatory face coverings would see Deben favouring telephone and email communication more with clients, as well as adopting video appointments, despite being slow to use the technology so far during the pandemic.
“[Video appointments are] not something we’ve really come around to as yet but if face coverings are made mandatory it’s definitely something we’ll need to be looking into,” said Hunt.
Deben currently has its own in-store supply of masks and offers them to customers. Hunt said he may look to increase supplies.
“We’ll still be in the shop if our customers do want to come in but I do think [mandatory wearing of masks] will stop more people coming in anyway because of the age demographic of our town,” Hunt added.