Face masks required in shops, take-out and train stations in England from Friday | Coronavirus epidemic

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Face masks will be mandatory in take-out food, banks and post offices as well as shops, supermarkets, indoor malls and train stations in England from Friday, the government said.

Masks must be worn when purchasing take-out food and drink, but if they sit and consume their purchase at the same premises, a customer can remove their mask to eat and drink there.

While shoppers must wear face masks, the rules state that store or supermarket staff will not be required to wear them. The government only says “we strongly recommend that employers consider their use where appropriate”.

New government guidelines released Thursday afternoon confirmed that the coverings must be worn in stores, banks, building societies and post offices and “travel centers” such as train stations and airports.

It will not be mandatory for customers to wear masks or similar coverings in hairdressers, sports halls, restaurants and pubs or cinemas, concert halls or theaters.

Banks and post offices will be able to ask people to remove face masks for identification purposes.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “As we take the next step of easing restrictions for the public, it is essential that we continue to shop safely so that we can make the most of our fantastic retail industry this summer.

“Everyone must play their part in the fight against this virus by following these new directions. I also want to thank the British public for all the sacrifices they make to help keep this country safe.

Retailers have said they will not ask staff to mandate the wearing of face masks in stores. From Friday, those who fail to do so could face fines of up to £ 100, under rules for wearing face masks on public transport. Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.

Stores can deny entry to anyone without exemption who refuses to cover their face and can call the police if people refuse to comply.

But major retailers have said they won’t ask staff to enforce the rules and some have said they also won’t force staff to wear masks if they are already working behind a plexiglass screen or a similar protective device.

Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, the trade body that represents most of the high street, said: “Retailers are doing all they can to support the necessary safety regulations and will play their role in government communication and encouragement. new facial coverage policy.

“While the enforcement of this policy is handled by the police, the ultimate responsibility rests with customers who must ensure they wear a face mask when going into stores. Our buying experience is evolving and we ask customers to be respectful and considerate when the new rules come into effect tomorrow. “

Businesses worry about potential threats to staff if they try to enforce the rules too tightly. Many retailers have already reported aggressive behavior from some customers when attempting to maintain social distancing measures.

Richard Walker, the boss of the Icelandic frozen food chain, tweeted: “If mandatory face masks in stores make our customers and colleagues safer, they are welcome, but we will not endanger our staff by asking them to control that. The UK cannot afford a second wave so we must all play our part and show care and consideration for one another.

The co-op is introducing body cameras for workers after seeing in-store crime soar 140% in the past year. He said the number of violent incidents reached record levels with 1,350 attacks suffered by workers in his workshops in the first six months of 2020.

The company said it did not ask staff to challenge buyers who were not wearing masks. “We are aware that there are reasons why some customers are exempt, and it is the responsibility of all non-exempt customers to ensure that they comply with the new legal requirements,” the cooperative said in a statement. .

Other retailers have said they will increasingly use signage to remind shoppers of the new rules, while some, including Sainsbury’s, have said they will make announcements to Tannoy about the measures.

Tesco will offer buyers arriving without a mask a pack of masks at the door.

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