The legal requirement to wear face masks will be dropped in England on Monday, a year after they were introduced to help combat the spread of the virus. Although experts still recommend wearing a face covering in busy or crowded settings, businesses can set their own rules.
Supermarket giant Tesco has said that social distancing as well as other safety measures will remain in place across its stores.
It will continue to limit customer capacity in stores at busy times as well as keep protective screens at checkouts as well as hand sanitiser stations.
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 July 19 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.”
Staff and customers at Waitrose and John Lewis have also been urged to continue wearing masks but bosses say it will be ultimately up to individual judgement.
Perspex screens and hand sanitising stations will remain in place throughout stores.
A spokesperson for the John Lewis Partnership, which also manages Waitrose, said: “In line with Government guidance, we will recommend that our customers and partners in England continue to wear a face covering unless exempt, from July 19.
“The decision over whether to do so or not when in our shops, will be for each individual to take, based on their own judgement.
“Across all our stores we will be retaining Perspex screens and hand sanitising stations.
“We will also maintain all of the hand hygiene and store cleaning disciplines which have served us well since the start of the pandemic.”
Taking to Twitter to share their thoughts not the easing of lockdown restrictions, users across the country have expressed opinions about the relaxation of face mask wearing.
One person wrote: “It’s ridiculous, we’re seeing thousands of new cases each day, just please wear one.”
Another said: “It’s such a small inconvenience that can help stop the spread.”
A third tweeted: “I’m glad it’s now a personal choice, but I will wear one and I hope others will too.”