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Retailers and consumers ‘expect’ face masks to be worn post-Freedom Day

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​​As so-called Freedom day approaches on Monday, there’s still a certain amount of nervousness among retailers in England (and their customers) over the ending of the legal requirement to wear face coverings in-store.

Photo: Tim Douglas/Pexels

More and more retailers are now saying they’ll “encourage” the ongoing wearing of masks with Tu Clothing owner Sainsbury’s and F+F owner Tesco the latest to come out and publicly back masks.

Given that they’re the two largest UK supermarkets, that means a big chunk of the UK retail sector will be actively promoting mask-wearing in-store. Sainsbury’s said feedback showed a majority of its customers are in favour of the move.

Trade unions representing store workers have also called for masks to be retained.

However, not all retailers will be actively encouraging them with jeweller Beaverbrooks saying it will leave it up to consumers themselves. However, the chain will retain plastic screens and staff will continue to wear face coverings. That last fact could be crucial in encouraging consumers to do likewise as the feeling of ‘standing out’ in a mask won’t be as acute if the person helping them in-store is fully masked too.

The issue has arisen as government policy has created a certain amount of confusion. Legal requirements to wear a mask in England will be removed as of July 19, but the government  said it “expects and recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces”.

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