Supermarket face mask rules including Tesco, Asda, Aldi Morrisons and Sainsbury’s
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Supermarket chains are starting to tighten their rules on wearing face masks in their stores as the UK enters the "worst point" of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned the worsening Covid crisis shows the need to follow rules as the number of cases and deaths continue to spiral upwards.
In Monday's Downing Street press conference he revealed that 32,294 people are in hospital across the UK with coronavirus and the average daily death toll over the past week was 926.
Warning "we’re at the worst point in this pandemic", Mr Hancock added: "The NHS, more than ever before, needs everybody to be doing something right now – and that something is to follow the rules.
"I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don’t rule out taking further action if it is needed, but it is your actions now that can make a difference."
Britain's most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, has also said Covid rule-breakers were "increasingly likely" to face fines.
However, other law enforcement sources have told the Guardian that mask-wearing in supermarkets will not be enforced by police.
These are the latest rules in place across supermarkets.
Morrisons became the first supermarket to enforce stricter rules on mask wearing when it said on Monday that shoppers who refused to wear one without a medical exemption would be told to leave stores.
Chief executive David Potts pleaded with customers to "be kind", telling people: "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," Potts said.
"Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind."
Shoppers in Sainsbury's must wear masks – unless exempt – and visit stores on their own
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Sainsbury's has become the second supermarket chain to enforce mask-wearing in stores, and will enforce rules with bouncers.
Although most customers "are shopping safely, Chief Executive Simon Roberts said in a statement that he has "also seen some customers trying to shop without a mask".
In an email to customers he added: "When shopping in our stores, you must wear a mask or visor unless you have a medical exemption.
"Security guards will support our colleagues at the front of store and will challenge customers who are not wearing masks or who are shopping in groups," adding that these steps will "go a long way to keep everyone safe".
Tesco is yet to change its mask rules.
On Twitter the supermarket giant says: "We are asking all our customers to wear a face covering when visiting our stores and have prominent signs in place to inform customers of the rules.
"However, there may be some customers who are unable to wear a face covering for medical or safety reasons and we have asked our colleagues to respect that and to not challenge them directly."
Aldi's website says: "In accordance with the recent government announcements, from the 10th July in Scotland, the 24th July in England and the 14th September in Wales, it is mandatory for all customers (with certain exceptions) shopping in our stores to wear a face covering for the duration of their visit.
"We thank you for your cooperation."
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Asda says customers must wear face coverings in its stores unless they have a "medical condition or invisible disability that prevents them from wearing a covering".
If customers arrive without a covering, packets of disposable masks will be available at the entrance and can be opened immediately, but they must be paid for at the tills.
Asda staff also wear coverings unless they have a medical exemptions. Those who don't wear one will wear a badge.
Staff in Lidl "may remind customers of the requirement to wear a face covering in our stores", but "understand that some customers are exempt".
Like other supermarkets, anyone who forgets their mask can open a pack at the front of the store then pay for them at the tills.
Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?
Customers and staff who can be exempt from face mask rules include:
- Children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of three for health and safety reasons)
- People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
The government says anyone with an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering can carry an exemption card.
Anyone who has a reason does "not routinely need to show any written evidence of this", nor do they need to show the card.
Although it means people don't need a letter from a medical professional, people can display something such as the card or a badge to show they are exempt.
The government says: "Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law," and templates can be downloaded for printing at home or displaying on phones.