With fears about the new ‘Omicron’ variant rising, a new mask mandate has been bought in.
From today (Tuesday, November 30), masks will be required on public transport and in shops across England.
Shoppers could even face fines of £200 for refusing to wear a mask when required, which could rise to £400 for a second infraction and £800 for a third. It is already mandatory in Wales.
This mirrors similar policies brought in last year in the face of rising case numbers.
Back then many supermarkets said they would not be actively policing the rules in the fears it could discriminate against people with valid reasons for not wearing a mask.
In the face of the newest rule update, the major supermarkets have released statements about how they will respond.
Here is exactly what Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Iceland have said regarding the mask mandate.
From now on staff at Tesco in England will be wearing face masks unless they cannot do for medical or safety reasons.
Other measures in place include:
- A traffic light system continues to operate at large and express stores
- Floor markings in the stores to help everyone keep a safe distance
- Separate entrances and exits where possible
- Hand sanitisers throughout the store
- Protective screens around the checkout
A Tesco spokesperson said: “As we have throughout the pandemic, we are continuing to follow Government guidance to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues.
“From Tuesday 30th November, it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering in our stores unless exempt in line with Government guidance.”
A spokesperson for Morrisons told MyLondon: “We will be following all updated government guidelines to keep our customers and colleagues safe.”
The store will be offering a free face covering to any customer who has forgotten theirs.
All Aldi customers will be required to wear a mask when visiting stores across the UK unless they are medically exempt.
Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer at Aldi UK said: “The safety of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority.
“Following the latest Government announcement, wearing a face covering will be mandatory for everyone that shops at Aldi from today [Tuesday November 30], except for those who have a medical exemption.”
Aldi will also keep in place other measures such as hand sanitiser and screens.
In a letter sent out by Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts to customers, the supermarket outlined their response to the new policy.
Greeters and security guards will meet shoppers at the entrance of their stores.
He wrote: “From today, everyone in England must wear a face covering when shopping or working in our stores, unless they are exempt.
“Throughout the week we’ll be putting new signs and posters up in all of our stores and we will have greeters and security guards at the front of our supermarkets to support our colleagues as we help everyone get used to the new rules.
“We continue to thoroughly clean trollies, baskets and checkouts and, as an extra precautionary measure, we have increased the fresh air circulating to make sure our stores are well-ventilated. We will of course also make sure there is plenty of hand sanitiser available as you come in and out of our shops.
“We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe this festive season – thank you for your ongoing support.”
Iceland has said they will not be forcing any of its shoppers to put on a mask before entering.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, said they would instead be focusing on the “long-term recovering of the high street.”
Richard said staff on the shop floor should not be asked to intervene when they spot someone without a mask.
He went on to add that Iceland staff would not be policing the policy in their stores.
Speaking to The Daily Mail, he said: “We fully support the reintroduction of compulsory face masks in shops, however, we won’t be asking our store colleagues to police it.
“Our store teams, alongside all retail workers, have shown heroic efforts in terms of ensuring safety for customers and building back consumer confidence and it’s crucial that we stay focused on the long-term recovery of the high street.
“We need to continue to encourage people to shop in stores if they feel comfortable, and I’m hopeful that the latest guidelines won’t discourage customers from doing so.”
A spokesperson for Lidl said: “At Lidl GB our priority continues to be the health and safety of our customers and colleagues. Whilst enforcement is the responsibility of the authorities, we ask anyone entering our stores to wear a face covering, unless exempt.
“To help communicate the regulations we will have signage in place across all our stores and will issue updates on social media and our website. Additional measures also remain in place, including cleaning stations at entrances, hand sanitiser, and protective screens at checkouts.
“We thank everyone for continuing to show consideration and kindness to our store teams who work extremely hard to support their communities.”
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