From today Morrisons will ban shoppers who refuse to wear face masks
A supermarket chain has confirmed customers who refuse to wear a mask without a medical exemption will be told to leave stores from today.
Morrisons, which has stores in Connah’s Quay and Saltney, said it had “introduced and consistently maintained thorough and robust safety measures in all our stores” since the start of the pandemic.
But it said: “From today we are further strengthening our policy on masks.”
Chief executive David Potts said: “Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won’t be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt.”
“Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind.”
First minister Mark Drakeford said last week the Welsh Government will ‘work with’ major retailers to “make sure that people are safe when we go out shopping”.
It comes amid growing calls supermarkets and stores that have remained open to tighten measures to help protect staff and shoppers.
Locally there have been ongoing comments from shoppers who have been in touch concerned about the number of people in a supermarket who are ignoring social distancing, one way systems in place on some aisles and not wearing masks.
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd expressed concerns for the safety of supermarket workers after receiving messages about social distancing.
Mr Gruffydd said: “Supermarket workers have been key workers throughout the pandemic and are expressing concern about the failure to ensure that safety guidance is being adhered to. In this current lockdown, we’re seeing looser rules operating in terms of allowing customers into supermarkets and fewer restrictions despite the worsening situation.
“It’s worse now than during the first wave but some supermarket managers seem to have thrown out that safety-first approach.
“Supermarkets are among the few places where people mix indoors now so it’s vital that they are as safe as they can be. Welsh Government has to insist on better social distancing and that’s why I’ve written to the relevant Minister to ask for greater clarity.
“The worst-case scenario is that supermarkets themselves have to close or limit opening because staff are falling ill and having to self-isolate. Hopefully we can get through this but it’s important that we keep all our keyworkers safe, whether they’re working in hospitals, care homes or retail.”
At the start of the pandemic in spring 2020 many supermarkets were limiting the number of customers in at any one time, along with one way systems and place and tannoy announcements reminding people to social distance.
Speaking at Friday’s Welsh Government briefing First Minister Mark Drakeford said that he had been receiving more inquiries about safety in supermarkets than “any other issue” in recent weeks.
He said: “Those inquiries are expressing anxiety on behalf of the public, that the visible protections that they could see back in March, April and May of last year don’t appear to be there this time, despite the fact that in many ways with a more aggressive strain of the virus, those protections are needed even more.
“What we are talking to the supermarkets about is a more visible set of measures. You will know that back then, if you went to a supermarket, there was always somebody at the front door. That person was carefully controlling the numbers of people going into the supermarket to make sure that we were no more than a certain number of people in the store at any one time.
“Sanitising arrangements were very visible at the front door, you were directed to where you would clean a trolley and make sure that it was safe to be used when you were in the store.
“There were one way markings very prominently displayed, there would be our tannoy announcements regularly reminding people of the way in which they needed to conduct themselves in order to keep safe.
“When you came to pay for goods at the checkout there was somebody there directing people to the checkout to make sure people weren’t queuing next to each other over prolonged periods. There were markings on the floor so people kept at a two meter distance.
“Some of that is no longer as apparent to people as it was in the early days of a pandemic.”
“I want to make sure that those visible signs of the protections that are being offered to the public and the shop workers are in place again.”
“We’ve worked very closely with supermarkets, they’ve done a remarkably good job on our behalf.
“We need to make sure that those things that give people confidence that everything is being done to keep them safe is being done in this lockdown, as they were back in March and April.”
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