Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose have become the latest retailers to say they will encourage customers and shop workers to continue wearing masks in their supermarkets from July 19.
On Wednesday evening, fellow supermarket chain Sainsbury’s said it will encourage all customers to wear a face covering if they can after “freedom day”.
It comes after the Government published guidance for businesses which said it “expects and recommends” masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces as the work from home order ends.
Tesco has said it will also leave a raft of virus curbs, such as distancing measures, in place across its shops.
Last week, the supermarket started an internal review regarding its mask-wearing policies ahead of the latest easing of restrictions.
The firm said it will continue to have capacity limits in its stores, protective screens at checkouts, hand sanitiser stations and regular cleaning after speaking with customers and colleagues.
A Tesco spokesman said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused on ensuring everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment.
“Having listened to our customers and colleagues, we will continue to have safety measures in place in our stores; these include limiting the number of people in store at any time, protective screens at every checkout, hand sanitiser stations and regular cleaning.
“We’re asking our customers and colleagues to be on the safe side, and so from July 19 we’ll be encouraging our colleagues to wear face coverings whilst they work and encouraging our customers to do the same when they shop with us.”
Asda will have signage and announcements to encourage customers to follow Government guidance and will continue to provide face coverings in shops for people who wish to use them.
A spokesman said: “We encourage customers to be respectful to each other and to follow the Government guidance on face coverings when shopping in our stores after 19 July.”
Staff and customers at Waitrose and John Lewis have also been recommended to continue wearing masks but said it will ultimately be up to individual judgment.
A spokesman for the John Lewis Partnership, the parent company of both brands, said: “In line with Government guidance, we will recommend that our customers and partners in England continue to wear a face covering, unless exempt, from July 19.
“The decision over whether to do so or not, when in our shops, will be for each individual to take, based on their own judgment.
“Across all of our stores we will be retaining perspex screens and hand sanitising stations.
“We will also maintain all of the hand hygiene and store cleaning disciplines which have served us well since the start of the pandemic.”
The retail group added that it will continue to follow legislation in Scotland and Wales which requires customers and employees to wear masks, unless exempt.
Aldi also confirmed its position on masks in its stores in the wake of the guidance from Government.
An Aldi spokesperson said: “From Monday July 19, we’ll continue to encourage customers and colleagues to wear face coverings when they’re in store. Other measures like hand sanitiser and screens will also stay in place.
“Face masks are still required for customers and colleagues in our Welsh and Scottish stores, in line with the latest guidance.”
In a statement, Morrisons said: “In England, while face coverings will no longer be a legal requirement, guidance encourages everyone to wear one in crowded areas.
“We will encourage all customers and colleagues to follow this guidance in store, to maintain social distancing and to exercise their own judgment.
“We will also continue to offer a free face covering to any customer or colleague who may have forgotten theirs.”