Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead on July 19. Among the restrictions being removed are the face mask and social distancing requirements. However, the Prime Minister has urged the public to proceed with caution as the country could see an increase in Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths as restrictions are relaxed.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that although face masks are not going to be compulsory, people are still expected to wear them in enclosed or crowded spaces out of respect for others.
This also applies to supermarkets as they will not be legally required to enforce any face mask measure from July 19, but chains will be able to decide for themselves if they want to introduce their own regulations for customers and staff.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts has said it will be up to the individual- either customer or staff- to decide whether they want to wear a face covering.
Mr Roberts said he would consult with staff on their views but would not impose strict rules.
He said: “There are two very distinct points of view. One is customers and colleagues who can’t wait for the restrictions to lift and not to have to wear a mask, and others who are keen to continue to do that.
“I think in the end it will come down to the choices that individual customers and colleagues want to make. It is going to be driven by customer and by colleague choice.
“We are clearly going to follow the Government advice, we will continue to listen to our customers and colleagues and we will respect and support the individual choices the customers and colleagues want to make.”
Aldi’s current rules are that all customers are required to wear a mask unless they are medically exempt.
Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer at Aldi UK said: “The safety of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority. Wearing a mask is mandatory for everyone that shops at Aldi, except for the small number of people who have a medical exemption.”
Mr Hurley has yet to say whether that will continue beyond July 19.
Asda has not yet declared what its policy will be after July 19. At present, all customers are required to wear a face covering when they visit one of its stores.
In case someone forgets, packets of disposable masks are available in every store and can be opened and worn while shopping and then paid for at the tills.