A COUNCIL has called on the government to act to stop fake face mask exemption certificates from the internet.
Blackburn with Darwen borough boss Cllr Mohammed Khan revealed his concern as he backed a call for residents to wear the protective coverings.
He was responding to Darwen East veteran Cllr Paul Browne as Blackburn with Darwen Council debated the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Khan revealed borough public health director Professor Dominic Harrison had written to the government calling for tighter regulations governing the format of the certificates giving people with asthma and other respiratory and medical conditions exemption from using face coverings in indoor areas.
Cllr Browne told the meeting on Thursday night/last night: “The other day I happened to be in Darwen Town Centre and I bumped into my friend Cllr Jacquie Slater.
“We started counting how many people we saw walking around with no masks on and it were absolutely appalling.
“If you are expecting that Darwen and Blackburn to get out of this tier three, then we must really educate everybody in the borough that when they’re out and about to wear the mask."
Cllr Slater said: "I was there and I did see it for myself. I counted over 20 odd people.”
Cllr Khan said: "I fully share the view expressed by Cllr Browne.Some people don't give a damn about it and I think that is really frustrating.
"I think the mask is a very difficult issue. The government legislation is that you cannot do anything if they are in the open air but if they are inside the shop you have to challenge them.
"So outside is very difficult, but inside people can challenge them. I think it is a police responsibility not a local authority responsibility. We are asking government to give us that responsibility.
""Some of the people have got a certificate in their pocket and I think they just got it from the internet. They show it to the police and say 'I am exempt' which is not true.
"Which is why our public health director has written to the government asking them that the certificate should be from a doctor or another expert not from the internet.
“We had our first Covid case in mid-March. We now have had almost 10,000 confirmed cases since the outbreak began and sadly have lost 186 people in our borough to the virus.
“We need people to keep following the rules and guidance. That’s the only way we’re going to do this."