The Scottish government’s announcement that face coverings in shops are to become mandatory has been criticised by the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF).

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Announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the measure will apply to customers and staff from 10 July, with some exemptions for children under five and for people with certain medical conditions.

Staff working behind protective screens will also be exempted, with further detail to be provided regarding age verification and staff involved in food preparation.

SGF chief executive Dr Pete Cheema expressed “extreme disappointment” with the decision.

“Staff are already under tremendous pressure and this will only add to this in in terms of enforcing these measures in-store and with age verification. Face coverings will further exacerbate retail crime. Convenience stores have already implemented social distancing measures very effectively and there is no evidence to show that stores are hotspots for COVID transmission. The Scottish government should have continued with a voluntary approach to face covering.”

Cheema added that the SGF is working directly with the Scottish government to develop clear and comprehensive guidance on the new measures.

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