Retail trade union Usdaw is urging customers to observe covid safety measures, despite the Government ending the mandatory wearing of a face covering in shops in England tomorrow. Face coverings continue to be mandatory when shopping in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Usdaw has welcomed early indications that retailers are keeping important safety measures to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. The union is calling for the whole retail industry to follow these leads, to avoid customer confusion, and for the shopping public to abide by the rules and respect shopworkers.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is deeply disappointing that the Government has ploughed on with ending mandatory face coverings in shops tomorrow, despite the concerns of shopworkers. So we welcome early indications from some in the retail industry, that they will keep covid safety measure in stores, and we hope all retailers will continue to put staff and customer safety first.

“It beggars belief that the Government chose to dismiss the concerns of our members and many workers who are desperately worried about restrictions being lifted while case numbers remain high. We understand that the Government has to scale back ‘Plan B’, but surely this should be done in a more measured and gradual manner.

“The Government could have eased existing restrictions while maintaining safety measures in businesses that have been open throughout the pandemic, like supermarkets. Face coverings, hand hygiene and social distancing had pretty much become the norm in retail, but constantly changing the rules is unhelpful.

“We continue to ask employers to think about their duty of care to staff and promote existing safety measures to the shopping public. We also ask customers to show their support and respect for shopworkers by continuing to wear face coverings, observe hand hygiene and maintain social distancing.

“Retail staff already face unacceptable levels of abuse and making Covid safety measures guidance only, instead of having the force of law behind them, could put more shopworkers at risk. We need more retailers to keep their Covid safety measures in place to avoid confusion and send a clear message to shoppers.

“Wearing a face covering is an important measure to help protect workers who have no option but to interact with the public. Many retail workers are at a greater risk of catching the virus and bringing it home to their families. They have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the country fed and deserve to be valued, respected and protected.”

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