ASDA has been forced to explain why it isn't enforcing the coronavirus face mask rules after a customers "couldn't believe" how many shoppers weren't wearing them in one of its stores.
Eve Whitty, 31, from Liverpool raised concerns with the supermarket after she visited a store in Huyton for the first time since lockdown on July 31, reports the Liverpool Echo.
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Brits have to wear face masks in shops by law to help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The rules were brought in on July 24 and shoppers face fines of up to £100 if they don't wear one.
Speaking to a shop assistant, Eve asked: "I said if I was smoking in here you would stop me so why isn't it the same for face masks and they said there was nothing they could do about it. I was absolutely fuming."
The following day, she emailed the supermarket's customer service team to ask why customers were not being turned away at the door if they weren't wearing a mask.
Full list of places where you have to wear a face mask from August 8
BRITS will be required to wear face masks in the following places from August 8, following new guidance issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Police can issue fines of up to £100 for those caught breaking the rules.
Here are the places you’ll need to wear a face covering from August 8:
- Places of worship
- Art galleries
Face masks have been compulsory in the following places since July 24:
- Shopping centres
- Transport hubs – Train stations and terminals, airports, ports, bus and coach stations and terminals
- Cafes and when buying takeaway food
- Banks and building societies
- Post Offices
In an email, the retailer said that it is "strongly encouraging" shoppers to wear a mask and that it has put up signs to remind customers they should cover their mouths and noses while in store.
It added: "While we will do all we can to strongly encourage customers to respect the new guidelines, the responsibility for policing and enforcing them does lie with the relevant authorities."
Not everyone has to wear a face mask, including those who have breathing difficulties and young children.
Asda is among a number of supermarkets who said they won't enforce the face mask rules.
It said that it was not their responsibility to "police" customers – Lidl, Co-op, Sainsbury's and Tesco have also adopted the same policy.
At the time, Tom Ironside, from trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said that while shops are doing "everything they can" to support the safety regulations, it is up to the police to enforce the rules.
He added: "The ultimate responsibility remains with customers who must ensure that they wear a face covering when going into stores."
How to make a homemade mask
If you're unable to get your hands on a mask you can make your own at home.
Homemade masks won't offer the same level of protection as medical-grade ones, but it hasn't stopped DIY tutorials popping up online.
One of the simplest ones involves using two layers of kitchen roll and one tissue cut in half.
You then cover each end with masking tape – and you can even tape down some wire to stiffen the mask, if you have any.
Finish by punching holes in each end and threading elastic through to fit around your ears.
If you don't have elastic bands you could also use a hair tie.
But Care Minister Helen Whately said it would be "inappropriate" for police to be called if someone refuses to cover their face in stores.
She added that the government strategy relies on the common sense of Brits to protect each other.
But Eve is now calling on supermarkets to enforce stricter rules so that more vulnerable shoppers, such as her relatives, are not frightened to go out.
She said that while some young people don't think that contracting Covid-19 is a "big thing for them", it's not fair on shoppers who are at a higher risk.
She said: "It’s gotten me down. Some people aren’t taking it that seriously."
An Asda spokesperson told The Sun: "Throughout the pandemic our customers have embraced many new rules to help keep everyone safe in our stores, and we are confident they will continue to show care and consideration for each other by wearing a face covering when they visit our stores.
"Whilst we will do all we can to strongly encourage customers to wear a face-covering inside our stores, it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police the new rules."
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