Which major supermarkets will challenge customers for not wearing face masks?

·4-min read
Shoppers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), of a face mask or covering as a precautionary measure against spreading COVID-19,, walk past a banner advising customers to maintain the British government's current social distancing guidelines and stay two metres (2M) apart, inside an Asda supermarket store in Walthamstow, east London on June 22, 2020. - Britain's current social distancing guidelines set the distance between each person at two metres to avoid the risk of contamination to coronavirus. There is pressure on the government to reduce this distance in order to give a boost to bars, restaurants and hotels, which are scheduled to reopen next month. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Shoppers are required to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets in England from Friday to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Tolga Akmen/ AFP)

The use of face covering in shops became compulsory in England on Friday to help stop the spread of coronavirus, with shoppers facing a £100 fine if they do not comply.

Supermarkets across the country have issued guidance to customers, based on the new laws, but many have said they will not be enforcing the rules themselves, instead leaving it to the individual’s discretion. Here’s what they have said:


Tesco has made it clear that staff will not be expected to police the new rules. Writing on Twitter, the chain said: "Our colleagues shouldn't be challenging or refuse entry to customers visiting our stores without a facemask."

However, customers will be expected to adhere to the law. In a separate Tweet Tesco wrote: "To help keep you and our colleagues safe in-store and reflect the latest government guidance, customers will be required to wear face coverings while shopping from Friday, 24 July. Face coverings will be available to purchase in-store and online (while stocks last)."


Sainsbury’s has also refused to ask staff to challenge shoppers who do not comply.

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a Sainsbury's supermarket in north London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/06/14: A woman wearing a face mask walks past a Sainsbury's supermarket in north London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Responding to a customer on Twitter, the supermarket wrote: "We won’t be challenging customers without a mask when they enter or when they are in store since they may have a reason not to wear a mask."


A spokesperson for Asda told Yahoo News UK: "We are complying with all Government guidelines and we welcome customers wearing face masks or not.

"Our colleagues all have the option of wearing face masks which we have supplied and the colleagues in clinical settings (pharmacy and optical) have been required to wear masks since the start of the pandemic as per the government guidelines on clinical workers."

Local response to Coronavirus is felt on a street by street level as people wearing face masks carry their shopping bags outside Asda supermarket on Kings Heath High Street on 6th April 2020 in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. Coronavirus or Covid-19 is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans. While much or Europe has been placed into lockdown, the UK government has announced more stringent rules as part of their long term strategy, and in particular 'social distancing'. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)
Asda have asked customers to wear fask coverings but will not ask staff to enforce the new rules (Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
A shopper wearing a face mask in a supermarket in East London as face coverings become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Wearing face coverings became mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England on Friday (Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)


A Waitrose and Partners spokeswoman said: "In line with government advice, it is not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings, however visors and coverings are available for all Partners should they wish to do so. Partners are encouraged to wear one of these where social distancing cannot be achieved in our shops."


In an email to shoppers, Aldi's CEO Giles Hurley said: "Last week, the Government announced that face coverings will be compulsory in shops in England from 24th July and, for that reason, you will need to wear a face covering to enter one of our stores from this date.

"If you wish to purchase a face covering, they are available to buy at every Aldi store in the UK.

A man sells face masks outside a supermarket the centre of  Leeds, northern England, on March 24, 2020 after Britain ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. - Britain was under lockdown March 24, its population joining around 1.7 billion people around the globe ordered to stay indoors to curb the "accelerating" spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldi CEO Giles Hurley has written to customers asking them to abide by the new government guidance on use of face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

"Even as the country opens up again, I know many are concerned about safety and do not want the steps we are taking to move forward, to mean we take a step backwards in the fight against the virus. It is crucial that we all continue to act safely and responsibly, while also enjoying the little parts of normal life that are gradually returning.

"That is why I want to reassure you that the comprehensive safety measures we put in place at our stores at the start of the pandemic are still very much in place – and will remain so for as long as they are necessary."


Lidl has said: "Wearing a face covering is the responsibility of the individual and should only be enforced by police and council enforcement officers."

"The government have stipulated that shop workers should not refuse entry to customers that are not wearing a face covering."

Those exempt from wearing masks for medicalreasons can obtain a card from the charity Hidden Disabilities, which they can show if challenged over not wearing a mask. Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear masks.

Face coverings will be mandatory in shops, supermarkets, takeaways, railway stations, and airports from Friday.

The rules do not apply restaurants, gyms, and pubs, which means you will need to wear a mask when buying food in a takeaway like Greggs, but not when having a sitdown meal in a pub.

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