UK supermarket Sainsbury's to encourage masks after July 19

Signs and loudspeaker messages in stores will encourage customers to wear a face covering

Shoppers in a Sainsbury's supermarket in London, on January 12.  Reuters
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Britain's second-biggest supermarket chain Sainsbury's will encourage customers to keep wearing face masks from Monday, when new government rules say it will be a matter of personal choice.

Despite a surge in cases, the government is removing most Covid-19 restrictions from July 19 in England after a rapid vaccine programme appeared to weaken the link between infection rates and deaths.

As part of the new rules, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said people in England should use their own judgment about whether to wear masks.

This led to different ministers and public services giving their own answers as to what the best approach would be.

Sainsbury's, second in Britain to market leader Tesco, said on Wednesday that signs and loudspeaker messages in shops would encourage customers to wear a face covering, if they can.

Staff will also be encouraged to wear a mask unless they are behind a screen.

"Our colleagues' safety is vital and many of our colleagues would feel more comfortable if those who can wear face coverings continue to wear them," chief executive Simon Roberts said.

"We've listened closely to our customers too, and they are telling us the same."

Updated: July 15, 2021, 12:06 AM