As mask mandate ends in England, stores ask consumers to continue wearing them
UK retail giants John Lewis and Tu Clothing owner Sainsbury’s are asking customers and staff in England to continue wearing face coverings in their stores.
The request comes despite the government ending its Plan B measures in England on Thursday that made it compulsory to wear masks in stores, restaurants and on transport systems. Restrictions remain in place in the other UK nations.
The retailers said their customers will be asked to wear masks, although the John Lewis Partnership, which also includes Waitrose supermarkets, acknowledged it will ultimately come down to “personal choice”.
The government rolled out Plan B at the start of December to battle the surge of Omicron cases. But the measures are being lifted because the mutation has already peaked, the government has said.
Though no longer a legal issue, the government is still advising Britons to wear a mask in enclosed or crowded spaces, and when meeting strangers.
While some consumers will welcome the freedom to shop unmasked after such a long period of having the abide by rules and prefer to head to stores without restrictions, other consumers may continue to feel safer entering stores maintaining a strong mask policy. Only time will tell whether the decisions will help or hinder footfall and sales.
Meanwhile, the rolling back of restrictions affecting workers is also seeing the slow return to the office boosting retail footfall.
While the scrapping of measures have been welcomed by some, others have urged people to “be considerate to those around them” when it comes to choosing to wear a face covering, and to “be respectful” of policies in certain settings.
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