Market-goers and Mall shoppers in Blackburn have reacted well to the introduction of compulsory face masks in enclosed public spaces, according to traders and security guards in the town centre.

People visiting shops, indoor markets, train stations, bus stop and other places have been asked to wear covering from Friday morning to stop the spread of Covid-19.

One security guard at the Market said she was "proud of the people of Blackburn" for sticking to the new rules and respecting social distancing.

While at times it was difficult to follow the one-way system introduced WHEN, the sense from many traders and shoppers was that most people were abiding by it.

The government, public health officials and scientific advisors in the UK have so far been reluctant to encourage or enforce the wearing of face coverings as evidence showed little impact early on, but most are now recommending wearing them in indoor spaces to help prevent the spread of the virus.

While Blackburn’s town centre resembled a sense of normality, many traders were left with much spare time on their hands.

Daniel Veitch, co-owner of The Market Barbers, said he usually "wouldn't get a moment's peace" but on Friday had the time to write a special poem for his fiancé on their two-year anniversary.

Centre for Cities data shows that Blackburn town centre was in the top 10 towns for activity following easing of lockdown restrictions, having almost returned to normal, but has since dropped off the leaderboard following a spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

Although most customers had followed the rules, Mr Veitch said there were several who complained about having to wear a face covering.

"One woman was in here earlier complaining about it, saying she couldn't breathe properly, and a fella said he had something called 'mask anxiety' where putting it on made him feel closed in."

Mental health charity Mind says there is such a thing - with masks reportedly making some feel claustrophobic and panicked.

The government has released guidance which says the vulnerable, including deaf people and children under 11, do not need to wear a mask, and that people with mental health issues who are affected by masks should not be made to wear them.

Sharon Ashby, from Blackburn, had been shopping at The Mall and is choosing to wear a face shield from now on because she's asthmatic.

"I can't wear masks, they're too close to my face," she said.

“I'd rather not wear [a face shield either] to be honest, but it's compulsory and it's got to be done."

Market trader Mohsin Qureshi thinks business has been quieter than usual too and believes many elderly people - the main Market customers – are still too afraid to return to a bustling high street.

"We have a lot of elderly customers who are scared to go out,” he said.

"But the customers who’ve been in have worn a mask - we're giving them to customers for their safety.”

Marianne Booth, a nurse from Blackburn, said that although The Mall was quieter than usual her shopping experience felt normal because of her job.

Asked about people who refuse to wear a face covering, she said they "don't understand what it's like" and encouraged everybody to do their bit.

Jen Simpson, from Wigan, owns her stall and has been busy serving “well-behaved” customers.

"It's all been really positive, and people are keeping social distancing," she added.

Loraine Jones, general manager of The Mall Blackburn, said many of its customers were already following local advice to wear masks while on its premises.

She said: “We welcomed the news that face coverings were to become compulsory in shops when it was announced earlier this month.

“We have already seen an increase in people wearing face coverings in The Mall since Blackburn with Darwen Council issued localised advice, which is great.

“We’ve been supporting the council to communicate the importance of adhering to the new rules and I am sure people will adapt to the latest change in this temporary new normal.”