In-store face masks become compulsory

Shopper with facemask

Face coverings in shops in Scotland are to become mandatory from 10 July.

The measure will apply to customers and staff.

Staff working behind protective screens will be exempt. Further detail will be provided regarding age verification and staff involved in food preparation.

Scottish Grocers Federation strongly criticised the move. Chief Executive Pete Cheema said: “Staff are already under tremendous pressure and this will only add to this in in terms of enforcing these measures in-store and with age verification. Face coverings will further exacerbate retail crime.

“Convenience stores have already implemented social distancing measures very effectively and there is no evidence to show that stores are hotspots for Covid transmission. The Scottish government should have continued with a voluntary approach to face covering.”

SGF is working directly with the Scottish government to develop clear and comprehensive guidance on the new measures.

The news prompted shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw to urge retailers to maintain social distancing in shops at two metres, as agreed in joint safety guidance.

It also called on customers to respect staff who have to enforce safety in stores.

The union’s Scottish Divisional Officer Stewart Forrest commented: “Usdaw worked with the Scottish Retail Consortium on joint safety guidance for shops based on the two-metre rule and, in our experience, retailers have taken that seriously and are complying. We see no reason why that should be relaxed now that the Scottish Government has made face coverings mandatory in stores.

“Our big concern is who enforces mandatory face coverings? We do not want shopworkers to be expected to turn people away from the store because they do not have a face covering or it is not being worn properly. We accept that face coverings can limit the spread of the virus, but they do more to protect others rather than the wearer and that needs to be understood.”