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Morrisons and Sainsbury’s Will Now Bar Shoppers for Not Wearing Masks

It’s an escalation on most supermarkets’ approach to coronavirus rules

Sainsburys supermarket signage saying “please queue here” with a customer wearing a mask next to it
Sainsbury’s and Morrisons will challenge maskless shoppers
Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

Two U.K. supermarkets will more rigorously enforce coronavirus rules

Morrisons and Sainsbury’s supermarkets will challenge customers who are not wearing masks, with Morrisons saying it will bar them from entering unless they are medically exempt, according to Manchester Evening News.

The requirement to wear face coverings indoors has been in place since 23 July 2020, under the snappily named Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020. Most supermarkets have chosen to monitor entry without strictly enforcing the rules. While the police have power to fine people who break the rules, there are not regular police patrols of supermarkets, and the legislation refers to the ability of a “relevant person” to direct someone to leave a given establishment if not wearing a face covering.

While the U.K. has not been subject to the litany of videos from the U.S. in which maskless grocery store customers throw items and abuse staff, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have a duty of care in asking their workers to enforce these rules. While Sainsbury’s has said security guards will be the ones to intervene, Morrisons refers to “a worker.”

Asking someone not to enter somewhere is confrontational, whether it’s in line with public health legislation or not, and there is a self-evident risk that such confrontations could prove inflammable. With supermarket workers already coming to work daily in a pandemic that has prompted the government to tell everyone who can to stay at home, asking them to enforce these kind of laws is just another burden to bear. [Manchester Evening News]

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