Face mask UK rules: All the places you will still have to wear a mask, from Waterstones to Sainsbury’s

·5-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

From Monday 19 July, people in England will no longer be legally obliged to wear face coverings in public places for the first time since June 2020.

Last week, Boris Johnson announced that the mandate for face coverings would soon be removed but said people “might choose” to continue wearing them in areas where cases are rising and in enclosed spaces, such as public transport at peak hours.

Additionally, despite the changing legalities, new guidance will be issued by the government telling the public they are “expected” to wear face coverings in indoor enclosed places.

As a result, business groups have criticised the government, saying companies and customers have been left with “mixed messages and patchwork requirements” ahead of 19 July.

This change in mask policy is despite a surge in cases of the virus - the daily number of infections surged to above 40,000 on Wednesday, the highest since mid-January meaning there have been 245,000 positive cases in the last seven days - and concerns expressed by scientists.

And as the date approaches, several major companies, such as TFL and Waterstones have announced that they will still be asking customers to continue wearing face coverings.

Here’s all the companies we know about so far.

Waterstones

On Tuesday, the book shop chain announced it would still be observing government guidance on coronavirus after Monday 19 July.

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“Given our enclosed browsing environment, we encourage our customers to wear face masks and observe social distancing, respecting the safety of staff and fellow book lovers,” the company tweeted.

Center Parcs

Martin Dalby, chief executive of Center Parcs, has said this week that masks would still be encouraged for staff and customers in the indoor sections of its holiday parks from Monday.

“The approach from Center Parcs will be to recommend that both our employees and our customers do wear face coverings when in indoor settings - that’s the advice we’re going to give them,” he said. However, he added: “It’s not mandatory and we won’t be policing it.”’

City Pub Group

The City Pub Group has said it will continue to encourage people to wear masks in its 45 pubs across the south of England and Wales.

“We don’t want a free-for-all scrum at the bar, loads of people queuing up,” chief executive, Clive Watson, told the BBC.

Transport for London (TFL) services

On Thursday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that he had asked TFL to enforce the use of masks on public transport after restrictions lift on 19 July.

Mr Khan said he was “not prepared” to put tube, tram and other transport users in the capital “at risk” by removing the rules on face coverings after so-called Freedom Day.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s has said that it will be keeping several of the current Covid measures after 19 July.

The supermarket will encourage customers to continue to wear a face covering, if they can, while staff will also be encouraged to wear a mask, with the exception of those who are working from behind a screen at a checkout till.

Aldi

An Aldi spokesperson confirmed that they will also be encouraging customers and colleagues to wear face coverings when in store from Monday 19 July.

“Other measures like hand sanitiser and screens will also stay in place. Face masks are still required for customers and colleagues in our Welsh and Scottish stores, in line with the latest guidance,” they said.

Tesco

Tesco will be encouraging colleagues and customers to wear face masks after 19 July.

A Tesco spokesperson 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; these include limiting the number of people in store at any time, protective screens at every checkout, hand sanitiser stations and regular cleaning.

We’re asking our customers and colleagues to be on the safe side, and so from 19 July we’ll be encouraging our colleagues to wear face coverings whilst they work and encouraging our customers to do the same when they shop with us.”

Co-op

Co-op has taken a more relaxed approach, stating that customers can “feel free” to wear a face covering if they choose, and they will support colleagues who choose to wear one as well.

A spokesperson said: “Our priority is to provide a safe shopping and working environment for our customers and colleagues and we will continue to follow official guidelines from the UK Government and Governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“In England, from the 19 July when restrictions are eased, we will support customers and colleagues who choose to wear a face covering for the protection of others and encourage all shoppers to be respectful of people’s personal space when in the store. Perspex screens at till points and store entrance sanitising cleaning stations will remain in place at all of our stores.”

What have other supermarkets said?

Waitrose

Waitrose has not yet announced its policy on masks, having said that it is currently “awaiting government guidance and we will work through that when we have it”.

Morrisons

Similarly, Morrisons has concurred that it is waiting for further guidance from the government before making any decisions regarding face coverings.

"This will be reviewed in line with our own policies this week to allow us to make the right decision for the safety of our colleagues and customers,” a spokesperson said.

Iceland

Iceland has not yet announced its policy.

An Iceland spokesperson said: “We are currently reviewing our policies in line with the latest updates from the Government on the easing of restrictions, and will continue to do so as further updates are provided. The safety of our customers and colleagues will continue to be our priority as restrictions are eased and we will update on any changes as we are able to do so.”

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