Several major retailers in the UK have asked staff and shoppers to continue wearing face masks inside stores despite the easing of coronavirus safety restrictions.
Face masks will no longer be mandatory in shops in the country from 19 July, but Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and other retailers are encouraging their continued use.
In addition to face masks, retailers will continue installing perspex screens at checkouts and offering hand sanitiser to customers.
Tesco will continue to implement safety measures, including restricting numbers of customers in stores and using separate spaces for entrances and exits.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused on ensuring everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment.
“Having listened to our customers and colleagues, we will continue to have safety measures in place in our stores.”
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Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will encourage customers to continue wearing face coverings but will not make them mandatory, leaving it to personal choice.
The retailer will continue to use screens between customers and colleagues at checkouts and hand sanitiser stations, as well as other cleaning procedures.
John Lewis is also encouraging the use of face coverings inside stores, although it is leaving the decision to individuals.
Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts said: “Our colleagues’ safety is vital and many of our colleagues would feel more comfortable if those who can wear face coverings continue to wear them.
“We’re asking everyone to be considerate and, while we understand wearing a face covering will now be a personal choice, we want to ensure we best support and protect each other in the weeks and months ahead.”
In Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, masks have remained mandatory in shops.
Recent data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Sensormatic IQ showed that retail footfall in the UK fell by 27.6% in June from two years prior.