Police are investigating whether a shopkeeper was attacked following a verbal altercation after he challenged a man for not wearing a face mask.
It happened at Nisa on Coatsworth Road, Gateshead, on 13 September.
The victim, who is exempt from wearing a face covering for health reasons, had asked a customer to put on a mask, but he was then challenged himself.
Northumbria Police said they were keeping an "open mind" as to why the attack happened.
CCTV footage has been released of the attack, which happened at about 13:45 BST when a man entered the off-licence with a scarf pulled over his face.
Robbery ruled out
Police said he immediately approached the sole staff member, grabbed him by his shirt, pulled him over the counter and punched him twice, before fleeing on foot.
The victim suffered minor cuts and bruising.
Police said they do not think it was an attempted robbery.
PC Martine Coxon said she believed the attack could have been related to the earlier verbal altercation in the shop.
"The man left the store as a result of the verbal altercation and a short time later the suspect has entered the shop and assaulted him.
"There could be other motives for this attack, and we are keeping an open mind as to why the victim was targeted."
The suspect is described as Asian, aged in his 20s or 30s, of slim build and wearing a grey and black tracksuit. He was also wearing a white patterned scarf over his face.