Supermarket chains Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have both announced that they will be enforcing tighter restrictions around customers wearing face coverings while shopping.
The move comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the public to respect Covid-19 regulations while grocery shopping.
He warned the public against “false complacency” and that “in supermarkets, people need to be keeping their distance, making sure that they’re wearing masks, doing the right thing”.
‘Strengthening policy on masks’
Morrisons said it had “introduced and consistently maintained thorough and robust safety measures in all [its] stores” since the beginning of the pandemic.
But it added: “From today [11 Jan] we are further strengthening our policy on masks.”
Security guards will be present at Morrisons branches in order to enforce the stricter rules.
Morrisons chief executive David Pottts said: “Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won’t be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt.
“Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind.”
‘You must wear a mask’
Following the announcement from Morrisons, Sainsbury’s also revealed that it, too, would be tightening its regulations around mask wearing.
In a statement emailed to shoppers, chief executive Simon Roberts said: “I have spent a lot of time in our stores over the past few days and I need to ask for your help with two key issues to keep you and all my colleagues safe.
“When shopping in our stores, you must wear a mask or visor unless you have a medical exemption. And you should also shop on your own. Thank you for your support.”
Roberts explained that security guards will be present at Sainsbury’s branches, and will challenge customers who are not wearing masks or who are shopping in groups.
The Sainsbury’s chief executive added that there has also been a significant reduction in the number of customers allowed in stores at any one time to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.
“Together, these steps will go a long way to keep everyone safe, whether you are shopping or working with us,” Roberts said.
‘Necessary stronger enforcement’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised the actions taken by the two supermarkets, stating that the stronger enforcement of Covid-19 regulations is “necessary”.
He said: “It isn’t just about the Government and the rules we set, or the police and the work that they do - it’s about how everybody behaves.
“I applaud the action Morrisons has taken today, the supermarket, they have said that they will not let people in without a mask unless they clearly have a medical reason.
“That’s the right approach and I want to see all parts of society playing their part in this.”