Union welcomes mandatory mask wearing in Wales’ shops and urges customers to “comply and respect retail workers”
A retail union has welcomed the announcement that the wearing of face coverings in shops in Wales will be mandatory from Monday.
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) has urged the public to comply and “respect shop workers” when the measures come into play on September 14.
Yesterday First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that in a bid to prevent a further rise of coronavirus cases, wearing masks will be compulsory in shops and enclosed public spaces in Wales from Monday.
Those under the age of 11 and with medical conditions are exempt from the new rules.
Up until now Wales has been an outlier in the UK in terms of mandatory mask wearing in retail environments and in enclosed public spaces.
The changes come as parts of Wales have seen an increase in cases of the virus linked to people meeting and socialising with others indoors but without social distancing.
From Monday, a new limit of six people will be introduced on the number of people who can meet indoors at any one time. All six must be connected by belonging to the same extended household group.
Usdaw has welcomed yesterday’s announcement after having previously called for mandatory mask wearing.
Nick Ireland, Usdaw divisional officer, said: “It is right to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in shops and we welcome today’s Welsh Government announcement.
“We have been lobbying for this for some time as a way of helping to limit the spread of Covid-19 and protect retail staff.
“We encourage customers to support shop workers by remembering to wear a face covering, unless they are covered by an exemption.
“We expect employers to display signage to remind customers about the rules. It needs to be made clear that shop workers are not responsible for enforcing the law. We are concerned that it may be another flashpoint for abuse of staff, which has doubled during the pandemic.
“Face coverings are not a replacement for existing social distancing measures, such as screens at tills, distance markers, hygiene measures and limits on the number of customers in stores.
“We expect employers to keep these in place and support our members in making sure that customers follow the rules.
“We ask all customers to wear a face covering and keep following social distancing measures. We also ask them to remember that shop workers are doing their best in a difficult situation and to always treat them with the respect they deserve.”
Last month Wrexham.com reported that research carried out by Udsaw had found that that between 14 March and 17 April 2020: 62.28% of shop workers had been verbally abused by customers during the pandemic, with 29.07% and 4.01% assaulted.
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