Face masks: Sheffield Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's and Waitrose policies on wearing masks from July 19 Freedom Day as Covid restrictions lift
From today – Monday, July 19, otherwise known as ‘Freedom Day’ in England – wearing a face mask will no longer be a legal requirement as Covid restrictions are lifted across the country – although wearing one is still “strongly recommended” by the Government.
The new rules have caused some confusion as there will no longer be any legal repercussions to not wearing a face covering in an indoor public place, but wearing them in enclosed spaces is still being advised by officials, and businesses are being given the choice whether they still want to ask for them to be worn or not.
With no clear ‘one size fits all’ policy, many people have been left unsure about whether they will need to keep their masks on for a little while longer or whether they can ditch them altogether.
But supermarkets and retailers have been issuing their own guidance on what they are expecting.
Tesco, Asda, and Lidl are some of the latest retailers to say they will encourage customers and workers to continue wearing masks in their stores from today – however the fact that it is a customer’s “personal choice” whether to wear one or not will be respected and anyone choosing not to wear one will not be asked to leave.
Last week, fellow supermarket chain Sainsbury’s said it will encourage all customers to wear a face covering if they can.
It comes after the Government published guidance for businesses which said it “expects and recommends” masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces.
Tesco has said it will leave a raft of virus curbs, such as distancing measures, in place across its shops.
An email sent out to customers yesterday from Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry said: “Please keep wearing a face covering in our stores if you can.
"Although the legal requirement to wear a face covering in England ends on 19 July, the government expects and recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces.“So we’re encouraging our colleagues and you, our customers, to continue wearing face coverings if you can.”
It also says extra hygiene measures like offering hand sanitiser at the doors and monitoring the number of people entering and leaving the store will remain in place, as well as offering a ‘quieter hour’ for people to shop in and retaining priority delivery slots for elderly and vulnerable customers.
Asda will have signage and announcements to encourage customers to follow Government guidance and will continue to provide face coverings in shops for people who wish to use them.
A spokesman said: “We encourage customers to be respectful to each other and to follow the Government guidance on face coverings when shopping in our stores after 19 July.”
An Aldi spokesperson said: “From Monday July 19, we’ll continue to encourage customers and colleagues to wear face coverings when they’re in store. Other measures like hand sanitiser and screens will also stay in place."
Lidl will also have signs up recommending that people wear masks if they can, with Perspex screens remaining in place at checkouts and sanitising stations at the entrance.
Waitrose has said the decision whether or not to wear a mask will be up to the customer but will be recommended.