CLACTON MP Giles Watling has urged people not to confront those flouting rules on facemasks after he received a “mouthful of abuse” from a train passenger.

Since June anyone travelling on public transport must wear a face covering as part of measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

Extra staff were drafted in, including police officers, to ensure people complied and those who refuse to wear one face a £100 fine – although people with certain health conditions and children under 11 are exempt.

Mr Watling, who is also chairman of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, said the issue of facemasks has been a prominent one in his postbag.

But he warned people not to confront those not wearing one following his own altercation with a young man on a train.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Clacton MP Giles Watling pictured wearing a facemask earlier this year.

He said: “I appreciate that residents can feel anxious, unsafe or even angry when encountering someone not wearing a mask.

“But it is not for us to confront them about this, or indeed to demand evidence of an exemption, as some people have been doing locally.

“It is not fair on those with disabilities to make such a demand.

“There have also been instances where confrontations have led to verbal abuse and near violent altercation.

“This was brought into sharp focus for me when I had a personal experience with a young man on the train back from London recently.

“He was not wearing a mask and he did not take kindly to my polite, and I hope, sensitive enquiry. I received a mouthful of verbal abuse for my pains.

“The other passengers were wearing masks I am glad to say.

“Doing our civic duty is one thing but putting ourselves in potential danger is another.

“So please step back from confrontation and instead take the time to report these issues to the police. They can then take the appropriate action.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Mr Watling added that he is “no great lover” of having to wear a facemask for extended periods.

“But I accept the need for their use, especially now that cases are beginning to rise once again,” he said.

I also recognise that we will never get full compliance with people wearing them, just as we never achieved full compliance with the lockdown restrictions.

“It is frustrating that some people are not wearing masks in confined spaces, especially as many are consistently wearing them and doing their part to keep our community safe.

“We must be mindful that exemptions are in place, but it is also the case that some people are just choosing to flout this important rule.”

Essex Police has set up its own web page for people to report breaches of Covid-19 measures.

To report an incident, go to