CCTV that blocks people from entering a shop if they are not wearing a face covering is being set up across the UK.
The cameras use artificial intelligence to determine whether a person walking towards the shop doors is wearing a mask in a bid to help staff tackle ‘difficult’ customers.
A screen fitted outside the shop’s doors will display a green or red message to automatically allow or deny access to the person.
Customers who aren’t wearing a mask will be refused entry automatically and the doors will remain shut.
The cameras use artificial intelligence to determine whether a person walking towards the shop doors (pictured) is wearing a mask in a bid to help staff tackle ‘difficult’ customers
CCTV.co.uk, who install CCTV systems across the UK for both home and commercial clients, said the technology will protect staff from difficult shoppers or ‘potentially worse’.
But it has not been specified how the technology will work around those who are exempt from wearing a face mask.
Tom Ironside, Director of Regulations at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), told MailOnline: ‘While technology can undoubtedly make a useful contribution, the important thing is we are all reasonable and respectful of one another and the rules.
CCTV.co.uk, who install CCTV systems across the UK for both home and commercial clients, said the technology will protect staff from difficult shoppers or ‘potentially worse’
‘For safety of staff and customers we urge everyone to follow the safety measures being implemented in stores across the country.’
Meanwhile, CCTV.co.uk’s James Ritchey said: ‘The technology is just fantastic.
‘The CCTV system automatically allows or denies access to the shop and means staff don’t have to be put at risk from difficult customers complaining, or potentially worse.’
Whiteley’s Garden Centre in Mirfield, near Kirklees, West Yorkshire, has already got the system up and running since last week.
They welcome 450 visitors a day, and staffing the door was a full-time job.
But since its installation, they have seen a 50 percent decrease in customer non-compliance.
The solution has been developed because it is now the responsibility of shops to protect both their own staff and the health of their customers.
A screen fitted outside the shop’s doors will display a green or red message to automatically allow or deny access to the person
Customers who aren’t wearing a mask will be refused entry automatically and the doors will remain shut
Mr Ritchey added: ‘Retailers are working so hard to stay open during these most difficult times, and this system means staff aren’t in the firing line from customers unhappy about current restrictions.
‘The other side of using an automated system is it gives customers worried about the virus confidence as they enter a tightly controlled secure Covid-19 store.’
It follows the revelation that more than 1,000 AI scanners are monitoring how close pedestrians get to each other in London, Manchester and other British cities to supply the government with data on social distancing.
The sensors were initially intended to track the flow of traffic, cyclists and walkers to work out how roads were being used, but after lockdown in March were fitted with the new feature.
Manufacturers Vivacity said the data is used to ‘inform policy decisions’, and in response to privacy concerns said that none of the footage is saved, streamed or used for enforcement purposes.
Its CEO Peter Mildon told BBC Radio Kent: ‘They are not recording any footage, they are not streaming any footage and no one is actually watching it.
‘We’ve trained an algorithm to be able to recognise what a pedestrian looks like as opposed to a cyclist or a van or truck.
A grab from one of the AI cameras, which were fitted with the new feature after lockdown in March, showing how they are able to pick out individual pedestrians and cyclists
‘We’re creating a set of statistics on how behaviour is changing in terms of how people are staying close together or apart.
‘And it is that data that is then useful for informing policy decisions on whether there should be a two metre rule or a one metre plus rule or whether local lockdown measures are having the impact they are envisioned to.’
The sensors are also in operation in Oxford, Cambridge and Nottingham.
The issue of privacy was brought up at a Kent County Council scrutiny meeting on Tuesday after councillor Simon Jones revealed the cameras were ‘in the pipeline’ for the area, according to Kent Online.
A close up of one of the traffic cameras
Mr Mildon added: ‘Even if Kent Council wanted to use them for enforcement purposes they wouldn’t be able to.
‘The [cameras] enable us to provide anonymous data on how the road is being used. There are huge benefits in understanding how that space is being used and how that can be improved or how it can be made safer.
‘The idea is to provide an evidence base to check that the interventions that are being put in and are having the policy benefits that the council envisioned in the first place.’
The installation of CCTV cameras which use AI come after the rollout of facial recognition cameras last year, in places such as King’s Cross, triggering privacy campaigners to claim Londoners are being monitored by ‘Chinese-style surveillance’.
The developer behind the 67-acre site in the capital earlier admitted it had installed the technology, which can track tens of thousands of people every day.
Canary Wharf was in talks last year to install facial recognition across its 97-acre estate, which is home to major banks like Barclays, Credit Suisse and HSBC.
Big Brother Watch said the use of facial recognition on such a scale in the ‘worst case scenario for privacy’ and Liberty called it ‘a disturbing expansion of mass surveillance’ that threatens ‘freedom of expression as we go about our everyday lives.’
Argent, the property developer for the King’s Cross estate, previously said: ‘These cameras use a number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition, but also have sophisticated systems in place to protect the privacy of the general public.’
FACE MASK POLICY IN THE UK
Face masks must be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.
It is currently the law for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles, in hospitality venues, like restaurants and bars, other than when you are eating and drinking. Staff in retail and hospitality settings are also legally required to wear face coverings.
If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (halving to £100 if paid within 14 days).
It comes after the World Health Organisation and numerous studies suggested they are beneficial.
As announced, the Government will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.
The Prime Minister has also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules, meaning there will be consequences for pubs that try to serve you at the bar.
National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘Individuals, businesses and households all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed and police will play their part in supporting the public to navigate the measures in place for our safety.
‘Our approach of engaging with people and explaining the regulations in place will remain. The vast majority of situations are resolved following those two stages, with little need for further encouragement or enforcement action to be taken,’ he said.
‘Police will continue to work with their communities and only issue fines as a last resort.
‘Chiefs will be stepping up patrols in high-risk areas and will proactively work with businesses, licensing authorities and local authorities to ensure the rules are being followed.
‘If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to the police, who will consider the most appropriate response and will target the most problematic behaviour.’