Stoke-on-Trent’s top health boss is calling for the last remaining major supermarkets to ban shoppers who refuse to wear a mask.
Morrisons this week became the first major food retailer to confirm customers would be asked to leave the store if they fail to cover their mouth and nose.
Since then, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Aldi and Waitrose have also pledged to take action unless shoppers have a medical exemption.
Previously, stores had said they would remind and encourage their customers to follow the guidance, but said it would not be their responsibility to enforce it.
Now Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones – director of social care, health integration and wellbeing at Stoke-on-Trent City Council – is urging Lidl, M&S and the Co-op to do the same.
He said: “The bandwagon is rolling and the remaining supermarkets need to match them. We need to do more.
“Put simply you would help reduce transmission of the virus and save lives – that has to be worth the effort?.”
This week, Aldi updated its policy and confirmed customers will be required to wear a mask. They also said they would provide face coverings free of charge to any customer who failed to turn up with one.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s has hired trained security guards on doors to challenge those without as mask, and Morrisons will ask any shopper refusing to wear one to leave.
Asda and Tesco have also updated their face mask policies, with a Tesco spokesperson stating: “To protect our customers and colleagues, we won’t let anyone into our stores who is not wearing a face covering, unless they are exempt in line with Government guidance.”
It is hoped enforcing mask wearing will help stem the spread of the mutant strain of coronavirus in the UK.
The calls comes as the number of people to die within 28 days of receiving a positive coronavirus test in Stoke-on-Trent passed the 500 mark.
Got something to say about this story? Join the conversation by clicking on the green comments icon at the top of this page or the picture box
Who is exempt from wearing a face mask as supermarkets update rules?
The government currently says you don’t have to wear a covering if you have ‘a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability’ and would experience ‘severe distress’ from doing so.
- Children (under 11 in England or Wales, under 13 in Northern Ireland, under five in Scotland)
- If you’re travelling with someone who requires lip-reading
- Those unable to put on or wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability
- People for whom wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
- Anyone assisting someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- To eat, drink or take medication
What is the face mask exemption card?
The Government says you will not be asked to show written evidence if you’re not wearing a face mask – with supermarkets and shops urged to be mindful towards those who may have special circumstances.
However, exemption cards and badges are available if you’re worried about being stopped.
This is a personal choice, and is not necessary in law.
It’s in the form of an e-document that you can save on your phone.
The charity Hidden Disabilities has also created a face mask exemption card for anyone with the right requirements to be exempt from the law.