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Sainsbury's has announced that it won't be "challenging customers without a mask" in stores and people have a lot of thoughts.
In a series of tweets, Sainsbury's explained that there will be "regular reminders" that customers should wear face coverings, but that employees aren't expected to "enforce the new rules".
@ImmuneSuper We won’t be challenging customers without a mask when they enter or when they are in store since they… https://t.co/3g7P0NVDfn — Sainsbury's (@Sainsbury's)
Tweets signed off by 'Karen' and 'Abbie' clarified Sainsbury's position on customers wearing masks.
@Elizaebeth5 There will be regular reminders for customers to wear a face covering if they can during their visits… https://t.co/Xhdi2QZGUu — Sainsbury's (@Sainsbury's)
Wearing a face mask while shopping is now a legal requirement in England.
The rules are intended to be enforced by police, with a possible fine of up to £100 for failure to comply.
However, John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said police forces do not have the capacity to ensure every person who enters a store is wearing a face covering.
Meanwhile the government has requested businesses "take reasonable steps to encourage" customers to wear coverings.
Where exactly the responsibility lies is quite unclear.
There are also numeous exceptions to who has to wear a mask, including children under 11 and people with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from wearing one.
@sainsburys @ImmuneSuper Oh well will no longer be using Sainsbury's. Shame really as they are my favourite superma… https://t.co/zCt8NJaije — John Sloan (@John Sloan)
While their tweet appears to have gone viral, other supermarkets including Tesco and Asda have also said they will not enforce the new laws.
Lots of people defended Sainsbury's, pointing out that it is not their employees' responsibility to check who is exempted from wearing a mask.
A depressing number of people are dunking on @sainsburys social media staff for saying their staff won't enforce ma… https://t.co/9nBPYZ0NaD — James Ball (@James Ball)
And made the point that supermarket staff shouldn't be forced to put themselves at potential risk.
Everyone slagging off Sainsbury’s for this can get outta here.
Supermarket workers have been putting themselves a… https://t.co/r8nTIbzLgV — Amy (@Amy)
The stance @sainsburys is taking is interesting. They’ll be encourage but enforce. At first I thought this was weak… https://t.co/GM5EyaKTdE — Ben (@Ben)
But some people made the point that there are laws which are enforced by supermarkets.
Let me get this straight
Think 25 - challenge anyone looking under 25 for party poppers and chocolate liqueurs… https://t.co/l6sm4UHAad — Sam Mitsy2k White (@Sam Mitsy2k White)
@sainsburys @ImmuneSuper You ask for proof of disibility for disabled parking spaces, which is fine. Why not train… https://t.co/jeVVs6YP1x — Jemima ❄️❄️❄️ (@Jemima ❄️❄️❄️)
And others were more frustrated with the fact that the lack of enforcement was stated so publicly.
Many UK police forces have said that they will actively be not enforcing mask rules, and now Sainsbury’s are saying… https://t.co/3l28XroTRD — Matt Collins | 🔴 LIVE NOW (@Matt Collins | 🔴 LIVE NOW)
@amynicpalmer Sainsbury’s saying this publicly PUTS those people in this position. They need to say on Twitter that… https://t.co/4FOmsFbCrD — Elliott Wooster (@Elliott Wooster)
As with so many aspects of the conversation around the government's handling of the pandemic, it seems the debate around masks in shops is still waging on.
We reached out to Sainsbury's with a request for comment, and they responded repeating the statement they made on Twitter.