There is absolutely no problem with entering supermarkets without wearing a face mask.
The up to date position on not wearing a face mask in shops
There are so many exemptions that there should be no cause to be worried about not wearing a face mask or covering.
In the first few days of the new government regulations, which started on Friday 24th July, the government and the media created such a climate of fear that the majority of those going to shops complied with these impositions.
The fear of being turned away from a shop or supermarket is very worrying indeed, especially for the average person who does not want any hassle and stress in their lives. Added to that, there is the concern about the possibility of having to pay a £100 fine for infringements of the face coverings regulations.
That has to be balanced by the fact that many police forces have said that they simply do not have the manpower to enforce the regulations, so they will not be hanging around outside supermarkets trying to catch people out. Even if they did, they would have no idea if a person without a face mask did not need to wear one because of the many exemptions which are available. It would be very debatable if the police had the power to ask for that person’s medical details, so generally, a person’s word would have to be accepted.
As for the shops and supermarkets, I have been in seven so far and not been challenged at all by any of the store staff, at the entrance, in the store or at the checkout. The reason for this is that most supermarkets and shops have decided to not get involved on the issue of wearing of face masks, apart from putting signage up on the subject. The supermarkets and shops know generally that it is not a good idea to upset customers to ask them why they are not wearing face masks.
Shops can deny someone entry for not wearing a face mask but that possibility, on the evidence so far available, seems to be very unlikely.
I have found that going into a supermarket without a face mask on can be quite a daunting experience, because at this stage in time, virtually all other shoppers are wearing them. This is because of the climate of fear. (I am sure there are many people who are exempt and are just too frightened of the reaction they will receive if they don’t wear a face mask and thus do wear one, even if it is not in their medical interests to do so).
However, once you have been shopping a few times without a face mask on, it becomes as relaxing as a normal shopping trip would be, and you don’t get too bothered about the bulk of other shoppers wearing face masks. I am sure the majority of them would rather not wear a face mask but are unsure what they are able to do about these rules of compulsion. The reality is the overwhelming majority of people were not wearing face masks in shops when it was voluntary, so there are clearly a lot of not too happy people out there.
Now that it seems there are little or no problems with most shops and supermarkets, it is quite possible that more people will go shopping without wearing face masks.
They do need to know this, though, and need to look at the list of exemptions so in the event of being asked, they know what theirs is.
However, the store is highly unlikely to ask what about a customer’s exemption as that is an invasion of their personal medical privacy. It should be only necessary to state you have an exemption, but so far it appears that customers are not being asked. In fact if anyone was asked why they were not wearing a face masks, what should be done is to say it is none of their business or complain to the manager.
The only problem I have heard of so far is of someone (who so happened to have a medical condition), being asked by another shopper why they were not wearing a face mask. If this happens, the best thing to do is to tell them it is one of their business, accuse that person of harassing you and report them to the store staff immediately, with a request they are kept away from you.
If you have worn a mask while visiting a shop and now are going back for your next visit without a face covering, there is no reason, again, to be concerned. You are very unlikely to be asked (because it is an intrusion on your privacy), and if you are asked you simply say that you wearing one did not suit you medically and you need to not wear one now.
Remember that this compulsory wearing of face masks is not medically evidenced and many countries do not force their citizens to wear face masks for these reasons.
Wearing face masks is just for the government to create a climate of fear among the general population and is an appalling abuse of power.
If you feel that wearing a face mask is not right for you, here is some more information from the government’s own website, updated on 23rd July, and section 3 on the exemptions is very useful:
When to wear a face covering
Different regulations exist for wearing face coverings in different parts of the UK:
In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:
- public transport
- indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
- shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
- indoor shopping centres
- banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)
You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave.
You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Face coverings are also needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are advised to be worn in care homes. Individual settings may have their own policies and require you to take other measures.
But where does this law not apply? See part two tomorrow for all the details.