‘Mask up’ shop staff told as tighter rules on face coverings come into force

Central England Co-op have been told to mask up ahead of new rules for customers entering shops Pic

Central England Co-op have been told to mask up ahead of new rules for customers entering shops Picture: ALEX CANTRILL-JONES - Credit: Archant

A regional grocer’s ordered its staff to mask up ahead of new government rules which require customers to wear face coverings in shops.

Central England Co-op chain boss Debbie Robinson said the retailer – which operates across shops in Suffolk and Norfolk as well as other parts of East Anglia and the Midlands - wanted to make sure the message was clear and consistent for everyone.

MORE – Call for action as shop workers subjected to torrent of abuse during lockdownIt has asked staff at its 400 food stores and funeral homes in 16 counties to wear either masks or visors from Monday (July 20) ahead of the guidance coming into force for customers on Friday (July 24).

“Our colleagues have all been supplied with face masks for when they are working and will be playing their part in helping our communities to stay safe,” said Ms Robinson.

“We want our colleagues to feel comfortable wearing a face covering for up to eight hours at a time, and so are also ensuring more comfortable face visors are available to those who prefer to wear one.

“Some customers are rightly exempt from this request, for health or religious reasons.

“We have made these exemptions very clear on our website www.centralengland.coop and all team members will be reminded of these important exemptions.”

Priority access for NHS workers remains in place, to allow front-line workers to be in and out of store as quickly as possible, she added.

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“So we now ask all of our customers to wear a face covering so we know together we’re co-operating in our efforts to be safe,” she said.

The new measures on wearing face coverings will sit alongside a range of others already in place at Central England Co-op sites. These had been “very well received” by customers, the chain said.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the new rule making face covering mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England was to “give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops”.

Those who fail to comply with the new rules could face a fine of up to £100, the government said.

The move brings England into line with countries including Scotland, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Mask-wearing has been compulsory on public transport in England and at NHS facilities across the UK since June 15.

Children under 11 and people with certain disabilities are exempt.