This is why some supermarkets are refusing to enforce the new face mask rules

"I won't be putting my staff at any risk of confrontation or abuse."

The Manc The Manc - 1st December 2021

A number of supermarket retail bosses have spoken out to explain why they won’t be enforcing the new face mask rules in stores across the UK.

Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland are among the retailers who say they have no plans to challenge customers over the wearing of a face covering in store, after masks once again became compulsory on public transport and shops as of yesterday as part of efforts to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The compulsory wearing of face coverings is one of a handful of new measures that have been introduced in England.

The UK government says that the new measures – which were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a Downing Street news conference this past Saturday evening, and confirmed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid this week – are being taken as a “precaution to slow down the spread of the variant”

The measures will be in place while the government attempts to “gather more information”.


Read more: All the new COVID-19 rules coming into force in England today

Budget supermarket chain Iceland was the first retailer to grab headlines yesterday after it confirmed it would not be asking customers to wear masks to stop staff members facing unwarranted abuse, with Managing Director Richard Walker telling BBC’s Radio Four Today programme that while the chain supported the reintroduction of face masks, it would be unfair to ask staff to confront people not wearing masks.


“They are already working under significant pressure, especially as we hit the busiest trading month of the year,” he said.

“I won’t be putting my staff at any risk of confrontation or abuse.”

Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland are among the retailers who say they have no plans to challenge customers / Credit: Unsplash

It’s believed that Tesco – the UK’s largest supermarket chain – will only be putting signs up to remind customers about face mask rules, rather than enforcing them, which looks to be a stance echoed by Aldi and Lidl, which are also understood to have no plans to challenge customers over the next three weeks.


Sainsbury’s said it will have “greeters and security guards at the front of our supermarkets” to remind people to wear masks, while Morrisons is too expected to have staff members checking the wearing of face masks at the front of the shops.

Both Morrisons and Asda said they will be handing out masks at the front of stores to customers who have forgotten to bring them.

Industry body The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said it is up to police to enforce face mask rules, not retailers, and that incidents of physical violence aimed at retailers have increased by two thirds, with reasons mainly being around COVID-19 rules.

New COVID-19 measures

  • All international arrivals must take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status, and they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
  • Face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and on public transport from next week, and all hospitality settings will be exempt.

People who break the rules could be fined £200.

Featured Image – Flickr