Tesco and John Lewis will ask customers and staff to wear face masks | Retail industry

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Tesco and John Lewis have joined Waterstones and Sainsbury’s in recommending that customers and staff continue to wear face masks in their English shops beyond 19 July despite an easing of mandatory safety measures relating to Covid-19.

A Tesco spokesperson said it was asking customers and staff “to be on the safe side” and “encouraging” them to wear masks. The company added that other measures such as limiting customer numbers in stores and separate entrances and exits would also continue.

In Scotland and Wales, legislation still requires shoppers and staff wear masks, unless exempt.

A Tesco spokesperson 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.”

John Lewis said that while it recommended wearing a face covering, “the decision over whether to do so or not, when in our shops [in England], will be for each individual to take, based on their own judgment”.

The company said it would be retaining Perspex screens in front of tills, hand sanitising stations and store cleaning measures put in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

From 19 July it will no longer be mandatory for people to wear masks in shops in England. However, the government has said it “expects and recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed, spaces”.

Businesses must also carry out health and safety risk assessments, provide adequate ventilation and turn away those with Covid-19 symptoms.

Many companies are expected to continue with at least some of the existing measures because of their duty towards the safety of staff and because most customers say they feel safer shopping with masks and other precautions in place.

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