When it was announced in early July that face-coverings were to become mandatory, it raised more questions for business owners than it answered. Not only was it unclear who should cover their masks in stores, but it was also unclear to which stores the rules apply to. Although the government attempted to provide clarity to business owners, outlining their guidance for face-coverings just a day before the rule was introduced, many business owners were still unsure of the implications to their business. We’ve answered the Frequently Asked Questions surrounding the face-covering rule to help you understand how to manage it in your store.
Under government rules, you are not required to provide face-masks for those without one. Some major stores, such as Apple, are currently providing masks to customers, however most stores do not offer this service.
What the government says: “The responsibility for wearing a face covering sits with individuals”
Businesses are not required to police the wearing of masks in their store. You may ask individuals who refuse to wear a mask to leave your premises, however, this depends on the will of each individual store.
What the government says: “The responsibility for wearing a face covering sits with individuals. Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.”
The face-covering rule does not apply to businesses in the hospitality sector, including; pubs, restaurants and cafes. If your business solely serves food/drink, for customers to eat-in, then it is exempt.
What the government says: “Face-coverings are not required in hospitality settings, including restaurants with table service, bars, and pubs”
Customers are permitted to remove their mask in areas dedicated strictly for dining. If your store has such an area, they do not need to cover their face when located there, however, they must continue to use the covering once they return to the main shopping area.
What the government says: “You can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink if reasonably necessary. This should be in an area that is specifically for the purposes of eating and drinking, such as a food court. If a shop or supermarket has a café or seating area for you to eat and drink, then you can remove your face covering in this area only. You must put a face covering back on once you leave your seating area.”
Whether a member of staff is to wear a mask is down to the individual. Although the government encourages all staff to wear face-coverings where possible, they are not required to do so. Allow staff members in your business to decide on this themselves.
What the government says: “It is not compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear face coverings although we strongly recommend that employers consider their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place.”
Widespread research indicates that the use of face-coverings in public areas is effective in limiting the spread of Coronavirus. A study from the University of Oxford states that “Cloth face coverings are effective in protecting the wearer and those around them. The rule has been adopted in over 120 countries”
What the government says: “There is evidence to suggest that, when used correctly, face coverings may reduce the likelihood of someone with the infection passing it on to others”