From 24th July 2020 customers in England will be required to wear a face mask when inside retail premises.
This follows a previous decision by the Scottish Government to introduce the wearing of face masks in store.
Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to require the wearing of face masks in retail premises.
It is not the responsibility of retailers to enforce the wearing of face masks; that falls to the police.
Retailers are entitled to require the wearing of face masks in their store and to bar entry to those not complying.
Failure to wear a mask can lead to a £100 fine (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days) in England, or a £60 in Scotland.
Some police forces are resisting their role to enforce this and the political engagement team would be interested in any example of where the police refused to act or where they did intervene and issued a warning or a fine.
In England the following are exempt from the requirement to wear a face mask on public transport or in a retail premises:
- young children under the age of 11
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- to eat or drink, but only if you need to
- to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
- If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
- If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
In Scotland the rules are different, with exemptions including
- children under 5 years of age
- police constables or workers such as paramedics acting in the course of their duty
- staff such as drivers or checkout assistants who are physically separated, by means of, for example, screens, from passengers or customers
- shop workers if they maintain a 2 metre distance from customers or members of the public
You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if, for example:
- the person has a health condition or you are disabled and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently. Individual discretion should be applied in considering the use of face coverings for other children including, for example, children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would struggle to wear a face covering
- the person needs to eat or drink
- the person is taking medication
- the person is communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading
- a relevant person, such as a police officer, asks you to remove your face covering
Staff and Employers Responsibility
There is no requirement in these regulations for retail staff to wear a face mask.
Employers are required to carry out a risk assessment and this should be updated to reflect changes to social distancing rules, any changes in the operation of the stores and the requirement for customers to wear masks.
It may defuse any potential issues with customers who are unhappy being forced to wear a mask, if staff members are also wearing masks.
Customer focused posters are available for download from the NFRN website: https://nfrnonline.com/districts/1/new-face-mask-posters-created-for-scottish-retailers-stores/
Advice on completing your risk assessment can be found here: https://nfrnonline.com/members-tools-covid-19/covid-19-risk-assessment-guide/
Details of NFRN recommended facemask wholesale suppliers (and other NFRN deals): Contact Savewell our direct buying group – 02070178863
The NFRN recommends that members take the following steps:
- Display a reminder poster at or near the entrance to your store
- In order to diffuse any possible tensions with customers, staff wear facemasks when not behind protective screens
- Always be careful not to escalate any situations. If a customer is not wearing a mask politely find out if they have an exemption before asking them to wear one. Keep a list of the exemptions handy and ensure your staff are aware of the exemptions
- If your store operates a no mask, no entry policy, make sure this is clearly displayed at the door
- Ensure that your risk assessment is up to date
- Ensure that you have sufficient supplies of masks and hand sanitiser
- Regularly check for updates at NFRNOnline.com