Six UK supermarkets will now be refusing entry to customers who fail to follow rules regarding face masks. 

Morrisons were the first to make a change to in-store rules and take a stricter stance on face masks, a decisions which earned praise from Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

Mr Hancock said: “I applaud the action Morrisons has taken today, the supermarket, they have said that they will not let people in without a mask unless they clearly have a medical reason.

“That’s the right approach and I want to see all parts of society playing their part in this.”

Sainsbury's followed suit and announced it will enforce mask wearing and shopping alone in UK stores as the country battles a rapid rise in Covid cases.

But they are not the only supermarkets cracking down on shoppers not wearing face coverings whilst shopping, a number of supermarkets have also announced that they will be doing the same.

Tesco, Asda, Aldi and Waitrose are the latest to tighten their rules around shoppers wearing face coverings, stating that shoppers without medical exemptions will be refused entry to their stores.

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‘Refuse entry’

An Asda spokesperson said: “If a customer has forgotten their face covering, we will continue to offer them one free of charge.

“But should a customer refuse to wear a covering without a valid medical reason and be in any way challenging to our colleagues about doing so, our security colleagues will refuse their entry.”

A Tesco spokesperson said that as well as tightening restrictions around shoppers wearing face coverings, customers are also being urged to shop alone.

They said: “We are also asking our customers to shop alone, unless they’re a carer or with children.

“To support our colleagues, we will have additional security in stores to help manage this.”

‘Make shops safer for customers’

Waitrose is also following the trend of offering disposable face masks to customers without a face covering, and denying entry to anyone who refuses to comply.

Andrew Murphy, executive director of operations at Waitrose parent company, the John Lewis Partnership, said: “By insisting on the wearing of face coverings, over and above the social distancing measures we already have in place, we aim to make our shops even safer for customers.”

Aldi chief executive Giles Hurley also said: “The safety of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority.

“Wearing a mask is mandatory for everyone that shops at Aldi, except for the small number of people who have a medical exemption.”

‘Customer responsibility’

While a number of supermarkets have clamped down with stricter regulations around wearing face coverings, some are yet to take a tougher stance.

When asked if Co-op would be taking similar measures, chief executive Jo Whitfield said that all customers “must take responsibility for wearing a face mask”.

She said: “We’ve increased our in store messaging to remind customers and government guidance does state that the police can take measures if members of the public don’t comply with this law.”

Additionally, Lidl also said that it would “remind those not wearing a face covering of the government guidelines and their own responsibility to keep themselves and others safe”.

Supermarket workers suffering abuse

The renewed dedication to ensuring shoppers comply with government rules regarding face masks comes after supermarket staff revealed the abuse they’ve faced for challenging customers for not wearing a face covering.

A Tesco worker from Gloucestershire said she was “horrified” by responses she had received after challenging customers, adding: “I find, and so do my colleagues, that it’s not as strict as the first lockdown.

“We have people refusing to wear masks, customers not social distancing.

“I asked a customer where his mask was and he hit the roof, telling me [Covid-19] is not real, and it’s the government making it all up - I was horrified.”

An Asda staff member at a store in north-west Meryside added: “I was put as a safety marshal on the front door, asking people to hand sanitise and if they need a mask.

“The amount of times the response is ‘Oh, I can’t wear one of those’, or ‘I’m exempt’, and show no proof.

“I used to ask people on the front door for proof of exemption and the abuse I got was mostly from the younger generation.

“My manager told me we have to offer them a mask, but can’t enforce it, so I feel it’s a waste of time.

“Most people don’t even bring a mask with them, so have no intention of wearing one.”