At least 16 shoppers caught not wearing masks in just seven minute period

·3-min read

Shocking images taken at a single supermarket show dozens of shoppers failing to wear a face mask on the deadliest day of the pandemic so far.

At least 16 people were caught on camera within just a seven minute period as they browsed the aisles of Asda without a face covering on Wednesday (13/10).

Supermarkets this week vowed to crack down on people refusing to wear masks in stores with some employing bouncers at the entrances to enforce the rules.

But many customers visiting the branch in Smethwick, West Mids., were seen without a mask amid concerns many are just blatantly flouting the law. 

The worrying scenes came on the day the UK recorded 1,564 Covid deaths - the biggest figure reported in a single day since the pandemic began last March.

One woman dressed in a black coat can be seen with a full shopping trolley but without any sign of a face mask.

Another shopper went unchallenged as he inspected Asda's fresh fruit section listening to music but again without a facial covering in sight.

In another image a middle-aged man is walking along without a mask and a few steps behind him another woman is doing the same. 

Other customers in-store were pictured wearing their masks underneath their noses - giving them no protection from airborne viruses. 

One supermarket worker, who did not want to be named, said: "The first lockdown many people seemed to follow the rules but it's not happening this time round. 

"There's just so many people not bothering with masks that its become impossible to enforce now. 

"We've had people being verbally aggressive to us and they all just say they are exempt. 

"We never asked them to prove it as it would take us all day and we've got enough to do already because we're constantly busy.

"We're not the police, so there's very little we can do."

It is now law in England that you must wear a face-covering on public transport, shopping centres, supermarkets and post offices. 

However, enforcement of face masks is the responsibility of the police, not retailers.

In England, the police can issue a £200 fine to someone breaking the face covering rules. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, a £60 fine can be imposed.

Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose have all announced they would ban shoppers who refuse to wear a face mask unless they are medically exempt.

Asda does offer free masks to anyone who has forgotten their face covering and has also reintroduced bouncers at the doors.

An Asda spokesperson said: "We have strongly encouraged customers to wear face coverings in our stores since legislation on wearing a mask in retail spaces was introduced in July. 

"In September we introduced 1000 COVID Safety Marshals in our stores to work alongside our Security Colleagues monitoring face coverings, offering free coverings to customers who have forgotten theirs and encouraging adherence to social distancing guidelines. 

"We are grateful to our colleagues for their hard work in incredibly difficult circumstances and we implore customers to treat them with respect and comply with the mandatory requirement to wear a face covering unless they have a medical exemption. 

"If a customer has forgotten their face covering, we will continue to offer them  one free of charge - but should a customer refuse to wear a covering without a valid medical reason and be in any way challenging to our colleagues about doing so - our security colleagues will refuse their entry."