Bosses of UK supermarkets and chain stores must hold “tough talks” with the government to stop wearing masks in stores, industry sources say.
Retail giants have also been pushing for the one-meter-plus social distancing rule to be removed, as it reduces the number of shoppers able to enter stores at any one time.
Discussions were held “in the coming days” between representatives of the largest supermarket chains in the country and government officials, according to the specialist newspaper The Grocer.
While supermarkets don’t expect an immediate elimination of Covid regulations, they are hoping to get a roadmap of how and when these measures could be removed, admitting that it all depends on “the science”.
Supermarkets are holding extensive talks with government officials to move away from wearing masks inside stores and grocery stores, industry experts say, according to The Grocer.
Retail giants have also been pushing for the one-meter plus social distancing rule to be repealed, as it reduces the number of shoppers able to enter stores at any one time. Pictured: A shopper wearing a mask in an east London supermarket
An industry source told The Grocer: “The meeting will discuss the way forward to move away from social distancing, including looking at what’s going on with the one-meter-plus rule.
“Talks with the government are imminent and will involve the heads of operations of food and non-food retailers. “
Recent figures released by the British Retail Consortium show that store visits have fallen 40% since the start of the pandemic at a cost said to be “in the billions”.
The grocer’s source added, “This is by no means a straightforward decision for stores.
“They are keenly aware that many customers will be wary of the removal of social distancing measures and have become accustomed to having the extra space.
“It could also become a pretty competitive issue. Customers may prefer to shop in places where they believe the best security measures are still in place.
Morrisons CEO David Potts told The Grocer that some measures such as plexiglass screens are likely to remain in the event of a third wave.
He said: “The only thing retailers don’t want is to roll back measures like screens and then have to bring them back if there is another wave.
Supermarket bosses say social distancing measures limit the number of customers allowed in stores at any one time. Pictured: A Waitrose queue in Frimley, southwest London
During the Covid restrictions, this often led to long lines outside supermarkets. Pictured: The queue of shoppers using social distancing outside an Asda supermarket in Gateshead, north-east England
Ministers ‘are divided’ over whether to maintain the lockdown beyond June 21 to protect refuseniks from ‘dumb’ vaccines – amid fears that local third parties will have to return to England, with Scotland ALREADY targeting areas
Ministers disagree on whether to extend the lockdown beyond June 21 to protect refuseniks from “dumb” vaccines of the Indian variant.
Tensions are mounting within the government as the most transmissible tension threatens to derail the road map, which is expected to see all legal restrictions lifted from next month.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted this morning that he is still “confident” and “expects the schedule to be met despite concern over the surge in cases in” hot spots. “
However, he cautioned against the “stigma” of those who do not want to be trapped. Summarizing the June 21 dilemma, a minister told Politico: “The risk is that a few idiots will ruin it for everyone. “
Meanwhile, there is swirling speculation that local curbs may be needed in England to keep the wider easing on track – with Scotland already targeting restrictions on specific areas.
“It’s not just a matter of putting them back, that would be a huge cost. ”
Figures from the last month show that footfall to UK retail destinations rose + 0.5% last week, before domestic hotels reopened today.
The figure is expected to rise this week against the backdrop of further easing of Covid restrictions.
From today people are allowed to have drinks with friends in pubs, bars and restaurants, while vacations have also become legal again.
Theaters, cinemas and museums may also reopen their doors this morning.
The current easing of Covid borders is the largest since the start of the last lockdown in January.
Hotels and guest houses can reopen to take advantage of the lifting of the ban on overnight stays, while cinemas, museums and soft play centers can reopen their doors. Fines of £ 5,000 for vacation abroad will be waived.
Economists estimate families could spend more than £ 800million this week as they celebrate the chance to meet loved ones again for the first time in months.
But the one-meter (3-foot) rule remains in place in public places such as pubs, shops, and restaurants. The government says people should also wear face masks when walking around these places.
But it comes amid warnings from top scientists about the spread of the Indian variant of the virus.
The prime minister urged families to take a “heavy dose of caution” and a minister urged revelers to avoid “heavy drinking” amid an 8% increase in infections in one week and fears that the total removal of restrictions on June 21 is threatened.
Despite the warnings, the retail industry is hoping to see a major increase in the number of buyers after a year of severe restrictions on Main Street.
Diane Wehrle, director of analytics at Springboard, said: “With indoor hospitality opening up today, the return of shoppers to the main streets couldn’t come at a better time, which suggests that we will see a Further increases in footfall such as the ability to eat and drink indoors protected from the elements will encourage shoppers to visit main streets more frequently and stay longer.