Usdaw welcomes compulsory wearing of face coverings in shops

Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed the mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops, but warns that it can only be effective alongside existing social distancing and hygiene procedures. 

Earlier this week, wearing a face covering in retail shops and supermarkets was made compulsory from the 24 July.

It is thought that those who are found to be flouting the new rules may be faced with a fine of up to £100 and will be enforced by the police.

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Children under the age of 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt. Environment Secretary George Eustice also told BBC Breakfast this morning that retail staff themselves will be exempt from having to wear a face covering.

The trade union has also called on the government to publish detailed guidance and safety procedures that are agreed with the union and retail employers.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said it is “right” to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in shops, but it must be “recognised that expert advice says it is an additional protection on top of existing safety measures”.

He said: “There now must be clear and detailed guidance from the government and we urge them to work with Usdaw and retail employers to draw that up, as we successfully did on joint safety guidance for the reopening of high street retail with the British Retail Consortium. 

“Usdaw is urging employers to stay with the established two-metre social distancing, using screens at tills and limiting the number of shoppers in store at any one time.”

Lillis added: “Employers must also be aware that staff will need regular breaks when they can take their face covering off and have the opportunity to replace it. Staff on tills who are behind screens should not be required to wear a face covering.

“We welcome the indication that shop workers will not be expected to enforce the wearing of face coverings. They are already dealing with more abuse than normal and this could be another flashpoint. There must also be clarity on age identification procedures, under the ‘Think-25’ policy, when a customer is wearing a face covering.”

 He concluded: “We now need a public information campaign to explain the correct use of face coverings, that some people are exempt from wearing face coverings and the importance of maintaining existing social distancing and hygiene measures.”

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