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13 July 2021, 17:07
Following Boris Johnson's announcement that all lockdown regulations will be lifted next week, people have been questioning what face mask rules will apply when shopping in their local supermarkets.
This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that 'freedom day' will go ahead on July 19 as the final lockdown restrictions lift.
Included in rules being scrapped is the compulsory need for people to wear face masks in shops and on public transport.
While the use of masks will not be mandatory from Monday next week, Government officials have urged people to still use face coverings when in crowded spaces.
However, the legal requirement to wear them will be lifted and so companies will not be required to enforce them from a legal point of view.
This means day-to-day life will be very different for people across England, including during their time in supermarkets picking up the groceries.
While the rules are changing next week, each supermarket is said to be bringing in their own guidelines for customers and staff.
Sainsbury's has announced that they will be leaving it up to their customers and staff to decide whether they want to wear a face covering or not.
Head of the supermarket chain, Simon Roberts, said that which they will be consulting staff, they do not want to impose strict rules.
He explained: "There are two very distinct points of view. One is customers and colleagues who can’t wait for the restrictions to lift and not to have to wear a mask for example, and others who are keen to continue to do that.
"I think in the end it will come down to the choices that individual customers and colleagues want to make. It is going to be driven by customer and by colleague choice."
He added: "We're clearly going to follow the Government advice, we’ll continue to listen to our customers and colleagues and we’ll respect and support the individual choices the customers and colleagues want to make."
Tesco are yet to release their next steps towards customers and staff in their supermarkets.
However, according to reports from The Mirror, an internal review on masks for their customers and staff.
Currently, their guidance still stands as the following: "To protect our colleagues and customers, we won’t let anyone into our stores who isn’t wearing a face covering, unless they’re exempt in line with government guidance. Please also make sure that you wear your face covering correctly – covering your mouth and your nose."
Morrisons and Aldi have also not released any guidance yet, but are said to be among the supermarket chains requesting more information from the Government.
In his statement from Downing Street this week, Mr Johnson explained: "We will stick to our plan to lift legal restrictions and to lift social distancing, but we expect and recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with those you don't normally meet, such as on public transport."
The official Government guidance explains: "At step 4, the Government will remove outstanding legal restrictions on social contact, life events, and open the remaining closed settings.
“The Government will instead enable people to make informed decisions about how to manage the risk to themselves and others.
“The Government will provide guidance to the public and to businesses on how they can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the risk of a resurgence which puts the NHS under unsustainable pressure."
On face masks, is reads: “The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings.
"To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, published guidance will advise that wearing a face covering will reduce your risk and the risk to others, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces”.