Rumours that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to make the wearing of face coverings an individual’s decision has been met with criticism by workers’ union USDAW.
Later today (5 July), the Prime Minister is expected to announce that from 19 July, the wearing of face coverings would become a “personal responsibility” and no longer compulsory.
Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis urged the government not to relax the face covering measures just yet. “Retail staff are working with the public every day and are deeply worried about catching Covid-19,” he said. “This is not the right time to water down safety in stores and the Government should not be removing the requirements of face coverings and distancing in busy public areas like shops.
“To speak about the wearing of face coverings in these settings in terms of personal responsibility, ignores the reality that public facing workers have no option but to interact with large numbers of people as a part of their job. The main purpose of face coverings is to protect others and the government must send out a clear message on this.”
Lillis also called on the public to help protect shop workers by continuing to wear coverings, sanitising hands and maintaining social distancing.
“Usdaw is urging the shopping public to continue to wear face coverings, along necessary hand sanitisation and maintaining social distancing to help make shops safer and limit the spread of Covid-19. We also continue to call on employers to maintain appropriate safety measures and ensure that they are being followed consistently, in every store.
“Many retail workers are at a greater risk of catching the virus and bringing it home to their families. Supermarket workers and delivery drivers have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the country supplied with essentials. These key workers must be valued, respected and protected.”