Supermarkets in Suffolk, including Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose, to ban customers refusing to wear face coverings in store
A number of supermarket chains which have stores in Suffolk have said they will ban customers who refuse to wear face coverings.
Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose have all announced they will be taking tougher stances on shoppers wearing face masks - with some saying they will have security staff at entrances to 'challenge' those who are not wearing them.
Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering will be allowed to enter, as was previously the case.
It comes following concerns social distancing measures are not being adhered to in supermarkets.
Morrisons said though it had consistently maintained thorough safety measures, it was strengthening its policy on masks.
Chief executive David Potts 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."
Sainsbury's said it was also putting trained security guards at the front of its stores to challenge shoppers.
Chief executive Simon Roberts said: "I've spent a lot of time in our stores reviewing the latest situation over the last few days and on behalf of all my colleagues, I am asking our customers to help us keep everyone safe.
"The vast majority of customers are shopping safely, but I have also seen some customers trying to shop without a mask and shopping in larger family groups.
"Please help us to keep all our colleagues and customers safe by always wearing a mask and by shopping alone. Everyone's care and consideration matters now more than ever."
Tesco said it will not let customers who are not wearing a face covering into its stores unless they are exempt in line with Government guidance, as it asked shoppers to be “kind, patient and respectful” towards staff.
A spokesman said: “We are also asking our customers to shop alone, unless they’re a carer or with children.
“To support our colleagues, we will have additional security in stores to help manage this.”
Echoing Tesco’s calls for customers treat staff with respect, an Asda spokesman said: “If a customer has forgotten their face covering, we will continue to offer them one free of charge.
“But should a customer refuse to wear a covering without a valid medical reason and be in any way challenging to our colleagues about doing so, our security colleagues will refuse their entry.”
Waitrose is also following suit with marshals at entrances to offer disposable masks and deny entry to anyone refusing to comply.
It has also suspended click-and-collect services based within John Lewis department stores to avoid non-essential travel, while in-home services will be carried out only if “essential” to customers’ wellbeing.
Andrew Murphy, executive director of operations at Waitrose parent company, the John Lewis Partnership, said: “By insisting on the wearing of face coverings, over and above the social distancing measures we already have in place, we aim to make our shops even safer for customers.”
Policing minister Kit Malthouse said he believes all supermarkets should follow in Morrisons’ footsteps, suggesting some stores have become lax with safety measures.
Speaking on Times Radio, he said: “I think that, understandably, following the November lockdown there was an element of release and therefore the person at the door, the sanitation station, the traffic light system, the queues outside obviously receded a bit.
“What we hope now, and I know all of them will, that they’ll see their responsibility and start to put those things back in place.”
Asked whether police should intervene, he said some officers have issued fines in retail settings, adding: “What we hope is the vast majority of people, or everybody, will be encouraged to do so by the shop owner.”
Enforcement of face coverings is the responsibility of the police, not retailers. Wearing face masks in supermarkets and shops is compulsory across the UK.
In England, the police can issue a £200 fine to someone breaking the face covering rules. Repeat offenders face bigger fines.