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    Local stores seek ‘clarity and support’ as social distancing and mask rules end

    A shopkeeper wears protective mask while working at a convenience store in Crouch Hill on April 14, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

    The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called for clarity and support from the government as retailers and other businesses prepare for the end of legal social distancing and face covering requirements on 19 July.

    ACS said its members need a clear expectation about whether they can set policies on social distancing and face coverings, for the safety of their customers and colleagues, along with clarity on whether the government sees adhering to social distancing and wearing face coverings in shops as best practice.

    In addition, the trade body demanded high level support from government, making clear that business policies should be respected and that abuse of shop workers and others for implementing these policies will not be tolerated.

    “We are already hearing mixed messages from the Prime Minister, other cabinet members and advisors,” James Lowman, ACS chief executive, commented.

    “If the public are being asked to act responsibly, specifically what are they being asked to do? Can operations ranging from transport networks to local shops set policies on social distancing and wearing face coverings, are the government asking people to respect those policies or to exercise their own judgement, and will the government support business in implementing these policies?”

    ACS said it will be seeking clarity and support during the meetings with the Cabinet Office and other government departments this week.

    “Our members will be faced with a group of customers who are uneasy about the lack of restrictions, and a group who are eager to move on from social distancing. We cannot support everyone without government messaging that customers should respect business’s policies. The tensions in government messaging will play out not in the corridors of government departments but on trains and buses and in the aisles of shops,” Lowman added.

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