Shoppers not wearing face masks is ‘entirely unacceptable’, Eustice says

George Eustice arrives at the Cabinet Office in London, Britain, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Environment Secretary George Eustice has decried those who are not following the guidance on social distancing and face coverings in shops, adding that the government will take measures to address the issue.

In an open letter to the food and drink industry, Eustice said it is more important than ever to ensure those working in the food and drink supply chains, from farm to fork, feel safe.

“Whilst the vast majority of the public are protecting our NHS and other key workers by following the guidance on social distancing and face coverings, there are some who are not following the rules in the way that they should be, despite the risk posed by this virus. This is entirely unacceptable and I understand the concerns you will have about this,” he said in the letter.

“When you go into the workplace, you have the right to feel safe and I am committed to making sure that you do. Everyone has a role to play to help limit the spread of the virus and protect one another and the government will continue to make this clear to the public,” he added.

Leading supermarkets have this week said that they will not let shoppers into their stores if they are not wearing a face covering.

Non-essential retail, restaurants and bars are shut across Britain, leading to a high level of demand for supermarkets and other food stores.

With COVID-19 infection numbers rising sharply, the government has earlier expressed concern about the spread of the virus in supermarkets, with some people breaching rules by not wearing masks while shopping.

The British Retail Consortium said on Monday it was the police’s responsibility to enforce face coverings and called for their support.