After over a year of restrictions, we’re finally living in a post-lockdown Britain. Monday morning saw the sun rise on ‘freedom day’ and the end of all legal limits on social contact. Perhaps most controversial of all changes this week, was the decision to make mask wearing an option of “personal responsibility”.
However, with COVID-19 cases continuing to climb across the country, many people are questioning if it is too soon to withdraw national restrictions. Understanding the widespread public concern, retail and hospitality venues have also announced that they will continue to encourage both staff and shoppers to wear face coverings in-store.
The government guidance says masks should be worn “in crowded areas” – this broad statement includes busy supermarkets. Several big British supermarkets declared that they will continue to encourage both employees and customers to wear facial covers while shopping, but will not bar those who do not.
Besides mask wearing, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison’s, Aldi, Co-op and Iceland have all kept their safety measures in place. This includes limits on the number of people in stores, protective screens at checkouts and regular cleaning.
As one of the first high street retailers to announce that it will continue to ask shoppers to wear masks, Waterstones received a notably mixed social media response. With 25,000 “likes”, it appears that the majority are in favour of the suggestion – however, a considerable minority remain resistant. Some threatened that the shop will lose their custom if they are pressured to wear a face covering.
After Waterstones’ announcement, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and their grocery chain, Waitrose, followed suit. Similarly, Boots is also encouraging mask wearing, emphasising the significance of following the guidelines in its pharmacy sections, which are categorised as “healthcare settings”.
In last week’s announcement, Boris Johnson made clear that people are expected to wear facial coverings in “crowded and confined settings… such as on public transportation”. Most commuters concur with the government recommendations, and have said that they will continue to wear masks despite the easing of restrictions.
A number of mayors throughout England have advised people to keep wearing facial covers on public transportation. In London, Sadiq Khan, has said that he is not prepared to put Tube, bus and other transport users at risk by relaxing the rule, therefore face coverings will be required on all Transport for London services. Masks will also be a requirement on the Metrolink tram network and at Manchester Airport, according to Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham.
Uber are another business who are staunchly standing by the face covering. The ride-hailing company are keeping their drivers safe by firmly retaining their “no mask, no ride” policy. The firm’s UK general manager, Ash Kebriti says; “as cities continue to open up, we will ensure that face coverings or masks continue to be a mandatory requirement, unless exempt, when travelling with Uber across the UK”.
Major airlines including Ryanair, British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2, Tui and Virgin have all issued statements saying they will continue to mandate the wearing of face coverings for both staff and passengers, in airports and on flights.
At Targetfollow, we believe the key to a successful high street recovery is consumer confidence. As coronavirus cases continue to rise, we understand the anxiety and therefore believe it is important that businesses encourage mask-wearing to protect customers and staff.
For more information on Targetfollow’s retail assets, visit The Pantiles and PE1.