It comes after Morrisons announced on Monday that it would now ban customers who refuse to wear headgear in its stores, amid rising coronavirus infections, while Sainsbury’s also said it would challenge those who do not wear a mask as well as people shopping in groups.
Supermarket workers and customers said they felt ‘safer’ now that face masks are mandatory at large retail chains – manager saying he wouldn’t hesitate to tell a buyer without a mask to “leave” his store.
Talk to The independent, a Morrisons official in Peckham, south-east London, said there was’ no reason ‘supermarkets shouldn’t’ enforce Covid guidelines’ – especially if it helps’ stop the propagation [of coronavirus]».
“We have security guards who watch out for anyone not wearing a mask,” he said, “and unless they can prove a medical exemption, we will ask them to leave.”
As before, customers at this Morrisons branch are offered “free face masks” on the door if they forget one, so it’s really “only if someone absolutely refuses to obey the rules, that we. would ask them to leave, ”he told me.
Outside, 20-year-old college students Stephanie and Elisa said it was “too fair” for people not to be allowed into stores without the proper mask.
“We’re in such a situation now,” said Stephanie, “wearing a mask is the least people can do. ”
She added that it was difficult to “understand why anyone would want to walk into a store without a mask anyway” given the recent increase in cases in Britain.
Elisa agreed, “If you think you can’t or don’t want to comply, just order online, there are so many other options available. ”
Both said it was unfair for supermarkets – and their employees – to “come to an agreement” to have to apply “clear guidelines”, which “the government has failed to do at all. throughout this matter. [the pandemic]».
“The UK didn’t implement anything in time, so it’s no surprise that companies like Morrisons have to step in and save what they can,” Elisa said, “and they shouldn’t stay loyal.
Another customer, a mother of a 30-year-old who went shopping with her baby, said the decision to make masks mandatory made her “feel safer – for me and my baby.”
“It’s especially good if someone doesn’t follow the social distancing rules inside,” she said, asking to remain unnamed, “because then at least you know the mask will protect you. .
When asked if there had been any problems since Monday’s announcement, the Morrisons manager said the change in regulation meant “people now know we can ask them to leave – or even them. prevent entry – if they do not have a face mask ”. , he said, it is “more than before”.
“I think it helped people play by the rules a bit more than before, when all we could do was ask them to wear a mask without consequence if they said no,” he said. declared.
The crackdown comes after Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News yesterday that “enforcement of” Covid rules must be stepped up in supermarkets.
“Ultimately, the most important thing to do now is to make sure that the effective enforcement – and of course the observance of the rules – when people go to supermarkets is respected,” Zahawi said. .
“We have to make sure that people are actually wearing masks and following the one-way system.”
Since Morrisons and Sainsbury’s introduced the new policy, Tesco and Asda have followed suit – pledging to ban unmasked shoppers from entering their hundreds of stores across the UK. John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, also said on Tuesday it would do the same.
A 60-year-old Sainsbury customer said The independent he “strongly” agreed with the decision to make the essentials in supermarkets – because they “make people my age feel more secure in indoor spaces.”
“This virus is spread through close contact, so more needs to be done to protect against it,” said Bhu, who lives in Brockley, south London. “And if that means supermarkets are more stringent, then so be it. ”
Speaking outside of Sainsbury’s New Cross branch, Bhu – who declined to give his last name – said stricter rules like this were “inevitable” after other countries “with much stricter guidelines – because their governments have been very, very strict ”. does the same thing “months ago”.
Asked about shoppers without a mask – and if he ever took it upon himself to tell someone to put on a blanket – Bhu said he “would like to think he would.” But, he said, it “makes more sense” for “supermarket security guards to have this power,” so that if a person is medically exempt, they can “communicate this and avoid any discomfort between them. customers and store staff ”.
“It can only be a good thing that the security guards, who hopefully are trained to deal with these people and these situations, can now apply these measures,” he added.
In a statement on Monday, managing director Simon Roberts said Sainsbury’s had placed trained security guards outside stores to challenge anyone not wearing a mask. “The vast majority of shoppers shop safely,” he said, “but I’ve seen some shoppers try to shop without a mask and shop in larger family groups.”
“The care and consideration of everyone is more important than ever.”
Another buyer outside of Sainsbury’s New Cross branch said it was a “positive step” to let supermarkets have this power, “as long as there is scientific evidence to support the need for masks – this which seems to exist ”.
Thomas, a 33-year-old New Cross resident, admitted that he himself “last week” walked into a store without a mask – “but only to buy one” to prevent that from happening again. No one stopped him from doing it.
He said the new face mask policy would allow “greater equality” among supermarket shoppers because “everyone is treated the same, under the same guidelines.”
“It’s hard to say whether supermarkets should be allowed to enforce government rules,” Thomas said, “but we’re in a big mess, so if that’s what makes people safer – and the virus stops spreading – it’s what to do. ”