The supermarket mask crackdown run into problems from day one today as some shoppers continued refusing to follow the rules.
Sainsbury’s today sent an email to all customers saying guards would ‘challenge’ maskless customers or people shopping in groups.
Morrisons has already reintroduced security at the door and vowed to ban anyone refusing to wear a face covering without a medical exemption.
Shoppers arriving at Morrisons in Peckham, south London were greeted by a security guard instructing them to put on their masks or they would not be allowed in.
One woman who came without her mask was warned that if she did not put it on, she would not be allowed to continue with her shop.
The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot. I’ve come into the supermarket lots of times before and not put it on, but I think it’s a good thing that they are enforcing this.’
But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop.
She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment.’
As Gladys shopped in the store, she was not challenged about how she was wearing her mask.
A maskless shopper in Morrisons, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot’
But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment’
A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask (left) and a security guard standing at the front of the store (right). There are some exemptions that allow customers to go maskless
Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth
Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts sent this email to all customers this morning to inform them about the new enforcement measures
Another Morrisons shopper said: ‘It’s about time. A lot of people are going to supermarkets and simply ignoring the rules. I don’t know why it’s taken Morrisons this long to start enforcing this rule.
‘We’re living in very difficult times and we’ve all got to pull together to beat this virus.’
The Morrisons security guard, who did not want to give his name said: ‘We’ve been given strict instructions about masks. If you’ve not got one on, you’re not getting in. It’s as simple as that.’
The security guard added that until today, they had not been challenging customers who were without masks.
Met Police chief Cressida Dick says it is ‘preposterous’ people could not be aware of coronavirus laws as she vows keep fining people
Britain’s most senior police officer said it is ‘preposterous’ that people could be unaware of the need to follow the third national lockdown and warned that rule-breakers will be fined.
Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick said people are still holding house parties, meeting in basements to gamble, and attending unlicensed raves despite rising numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.
She warned that anyone caught breaking the rules or failing to comply would result in officers ‘moving much more quickly to enforcement action’.
It comes amid increasing calls for tougher shutdown restrictions, with No10 even considering imposing Chinese-style curfews, outdoor mask mandates and three metre social distancing.
Writing in the Times today, Dame Cressida said: ‘It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.
‘We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.’
He said: ‘It wasn’t our responsibility to enforce it and we were told to call the police, which we never did. This is going to create more problems for us because my concern is that some people will not want to wear a mask and will fight with us over it. So far, we’ve not had many problems.’
Today several other shoppers at supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons were still seen without masks, although the vast majority were complying with the rules.
Britain’s policing minister Kit Malthouse today said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops, but measures imposed and enforced by owners would be effective in most cases.
Brian Booth, chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, emphasised that officers would only intervene if ‘other offences were committed’, such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive.
He added: ‘We simply are not enough police resources to have an officer in every supermarket.’
It came as Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said it was ‘preposterous’ that people would not know the Covid rules, and vowed to continue fining lawbreakers.
Meanwhile, Mr Booth criticised the current regulations as ‘woolly’, saying they left too many ‘loose ends’ which ‘cheesed-off’ officers had to interpret for themselves.
He suggested that the much-publicised fining of two walkers in Derbyshire was correct according to the guidance.
‘An officer issued a ticket in the spirit it was written,’ Mr Booth told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘Normally in law, when you have a new law it is disputed and goes to the court where it is argued and becomes case law.
‘But we don’t have time for that, so what we need is a sound basis in law and we need it now, rather than leaving loose ends.’
During the first shutdown, supermarkets installed bouncers at store entrances to challenge rule-breakers and created in-store one-way systems to help people socially distance.
But the bouncers began to vanish as the threat posed by Covid-19 waned during the summer, leading to an increasingly ‘lax’ attitude from shoppers who no longer cover their faces.
Shopworkers have revealed that they are receiving abuse from customers for encouraging them to wear masks, fuelling calls for bouncers to visibly enforce lockdown measures.
London’s Borough Market becomes first outdoor space in UK to legally enforce face masks with anyone caught breaching rules facing £50 fine
London’s Borough Market has become the first outdoor space in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of face masks.
From Monday, customers and vendors at the food and drink market will face a £50 fine if they do not wear a face covering in and around the stalls.
Pictures taken in the market in December showed vast swathes of shoppers crammed in as they browsed through stalls.
The drastic move comes as the Government considers making wearing masks outdoors compulsory for all Britons under harsh new lockdown rules.
Boris Johnson met cabinet colleagues last night to discuss an even-tougher lockdown – with measures including a ban on extended bubbles and limits on exercise.
A Whitehall source told MailOnline ministers have discussed going as far as saying people can only leave the house once a week – although No10 denied this was on the cards saying the focus was on ‘bolstering enforcement and policing’.
The union Usdaw said it had been ‘inundated’ with complaints from its members of abuse during the pandemic, and demanded supermarkets and food retailers revert to ‘stringent’ restrictions.
High street chains including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose insisted that Covid safety remains their ‘highest priority’ and said that customers were given regular reminders to follow the rules.
But shocking examples of the regulations being broken were seemingly evident in the big-brand shops as Boris Johnson warned of ‘complacency’ and urged people to comply with the restrictions.
It comes amid threats to impose outdoor mask mandates, with London’s Borough Market becoming the first place in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of masks while the Welsh health minister hinted that restrictions could get even tougher as he advised people to wear masks inbetween shops in public.
The PM said : ‘We need to enforce the rules in supermarkets. When people are getting takeaway drinks, in cafes, then they need to avoid spreading the disease there, avoid mingling too much.’
In a statement, Morrisons said it had ‘introduced and consistently maintained thorough and robust safety measures in all our stores’ since last year.
But it added: ‘From today we are further strengthening our policy on masks’ – revealing that security guards at the UK’s fourth-biggest supermarket chain will be enforcing the new rules.
Enforcement of face masks 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. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, a £60 fine can be imposed. Repeat offenders face bigger fines.
Morrisons’ chief executive David Potts announced: ‘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.’
A woman is challenged for not wearing a mask at a Morrisons branch in south-east London. Bouncers are now on the doors of every Morrisons and Sainsbury’s store
The vast majority of people seen at supermarkets across the UK today – including a Morrisons in London, pictured – were following the rules
Several customers had masks on that were not properly positioned over there nose and mouth, as the anti-Covid rules require
Supermarkets have been urged to ensure all customers are following the rules and wearing their face coverings correctly
Face coverings: Who is exempt?
Children under the age of 11 and people who cannot wear a face covering due to a mental or physical illness are exempt from wearing masks.
People who need to speak to or assist someone who is lip reading, or needs clear sound and/or facial expressions to communicate, are also exempt.
Carrying an exemption card or badge is a ‘personal choice’ and ‘not required by law’, according to the government.
It states that if you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a mask, then you ‘do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this’ and ‘do not need to show an exemption card’.
The full list of exemptions can be found here.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts said: ‘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.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised Morrisons for imposing a blanket mask rule, telling a Downing Street press conference: ‘It isn’t just about the Government and the rules we set, or the police and the work that they do – it’s about how everybody behaves.
‘I applaud the action Morrisons has taken today, the supermarket, they have said that they will not let people in without a mask unless they clearly have a medical reason. That’s the right approach and I want to see all parts of society playing their part in this.’
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday voiced his concerns that members of the public were not complying with measures put in place by supermarkets, amid suggestions the restrictions may need to be toughened.
‘I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system and making sure when it’s at capacity they wait outside the supermarket,’ he said.
It comes amid reports that shopworkers are receiving abuse from customers who are not wearing masks, with Lincoln-based supermarket staffer Skye Henson, 23, saying people took the first lockdown ‘a lot more seriously’ and claiming ‘we’re lucky if people are wearing masks’ now.
She told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat: ‘A good 30 per cenr of the people that come into our shop don’t wear masks and just outright don’t think it’s an issue. They don’t consider us to be in any kind of danger, so for me I do think a lot of it is the public putting us at risk.’
Britain’s policing minister Kit Malthouse said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops. Pictured are Tesco customers following the rules at a store in London this morning
Customers wearing face coverings on the vegetable aisle at a Tesco Extra store in south-east London early this morning
A customer walking out of Morrisons in south-east London this morning at the start of the supermarkets’ mask wearing crackdown
Tesco has signs outside many of its stores insisting shoppers must wear a face covering, although they can ask staff for one if they have lost theirs
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: ‘Retail staff are working with the public every day and not only suffer increased abuse, but are deeply worried about catching Covid-19.
Supermarket coronavirus rules in place
Facemasks are mandatory in store, unless the shopper is medically exempt from wearing them.
There are also plastic safety screens, hand sanitiser and signs urging customers to socially distance.
The store also has specially-timed slots for elderly or vulnerable people to buy their goods.
Marks & Spencer
M&S has hand sanitising as well as one-way systems in place and a facemask rule.
Larger shops have restricted the purchase of non-essential goods.
There is also a booking process to let people reserve a slot instore to go shopping.
Morrison’s have told staff to refuse entry to shoppers who have no medical reason for not wearing a facemask.
They also have a specialist next-day delivery service for those who cannot get to a shop in person.
The shop also has an NHS priority time the key workers can go in to buy food.
Asda, like others, has a rule for facemasks unless there is a medical exemption announced by the customer.
They also have an app that lets shoppers wait in a digital queue in their cars for a slot to go instore.
Asda also say they have put a protective film on basket and trolley grips that kills bacteria.
Tesco has similar facemask and cleaning protocols in place in all of its stores.
It also has priority hours for key workers as well as limits on some items for delivery.
Larger stores still have staff at the front of them to warn unmasked shoppers going in they need to cover up.
Waitrose says facemasks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one.
Marshals are at the entrances to its stores to check people are wearing mask and are shopping alone.
Floor-markers help customers to follow social distancing while people are asked to keep two metres in queues.
‘Where safety measures are agreed, retailers need to make sure that they are being followed consistently, in every store.
‘We are also very concerned by reports that too many customers are not following necessary safety measures like social distancing, wearing a face covering and only shopping for essential items.
‘It is going to take some time to roll out the vaccine and we cannot afford to be complacent in the meantime, particularly with a new strain sweeping the nation.
‘I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system and making sure when it’s at capacity they wait outside the supermarket.’
Retail industry body the British Retail Consortium said that workers have faced an increase in incidents of violence and abuse when trying to encourage shoppers to put them on.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Supermarkets continue to follow all safety guidance and customers should be reassured that supermarkets are Covid-secure and safe to visit during lockdown and beyond.
‘Customers should play their part too by following in-store signage and being considerate to staff and fellow shoppers.’
One woman told MailOnline how Marks and Spencer told her they could not challenge people who do not adhere to the mask mandate.
Fiona Call said she was shopping at a Food Hall at Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire when she saw a woman ‘blatantly marching around the store with her mask under her chin’.
‘I mentioned this to a manager in the store. His reply was that they aren’t allowed to challenge people who aren’t adhering to the rules,’ she said.
‘She was obviously putting many people at risk by her behaviour and no one was able to do anything about it.’
Marks and Spencer insisted it was enforcing lockdown rules, with a ‘friendly host at the entrance’ who counts customers and manages queues.
Tesco said it was still enforcing social distancing practices in store but was not looking yet at reintroducing measures such as one-way aisles.
‘The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority and we already have extensive social distancing measures in our stores to ensure everyone can shop safely with us,’ the store said on Twitter.
‘We are asking all our customers to wear a face covering when visiting our stores and have prominent signs in place to inform customers of the rules.
‘However, there may be some customers who are unable to wear a face covering for medical or safety reasons and we have asked our colleagues to respect that and to not challenge them directly.’
Waitrose said face masks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one.
It said marshals flank the entrances to its stores to check people are complying with the mask mandate and checking that people are shopping alone.
The supermarket chain has also laid out floor markers which instruct customers to following social distancing rules, while signs and tannoys tell people to keep two metres apart while queueing on the premises.
Data from Public Health England last week found 11 outbreaks of the disease had come from food outlets.
But England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said supermarket staff would not be initially prioritised for vaccinations unless they also fell into the highest vulnerability categories.
Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and ‘act like you’ve got it’ as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives