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More supermarkets are banning shoppers from their stores if they do not wear face masks.
A day after Morrisons and Sainsbury's announced bans on customers without face coverings, Tesco and Asda have both said they will turn away people who refuse to wear masks unless they are medically exempt.
Supermarkets are tightening their rules as the UK enters the "worst point" of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Monday's Downing Street press conference Health Secretary revealed that 32,294 people are in hospital across the UK with coronavirus and the average daily death toll over the past week was 926.
Warning "we’re at the worst point in this pandemic", Mr Hancock added: "The NHS, more than ever before, needs everybody to be doing something right now – and that something is to follow the rules.
"I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don’t rule out taking further action if it is needed, but it is your actions now that can make a difference."
Britain's most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, has also said Covid rule-breakers were "increasingly likely" to face fines.
However, other law enforcement sources have told the Guardian that mask-wearing in supermarkets will not be enforced by police.
These are the latest rules in place across supermarkets.
Morrisons became the first supermarket to enforce stricter rules on mask wearing when it said on Monday that shoppers who refused to wear one without a medical exemption would be told to leave stores.
Chief executive David Potts pleaded with customers to "be kind", telling people: "Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won't be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt," Potts said.
"Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind."
Shoppers in Sainsbury's must wear masks – unless exempt – and visit stores on their own
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Sainsbury's has become the second supermarket chain to enforce mask-wearing in stores, and will enforce rules with bouncers.
Although most customers "are shopping safely, Chief Executive Simon Roberts said in a statement that he has "also seen some customers trying to shop without a mask".
In an email to customers he added: "When shopping in our stores, you must wear a mask or visor unless you have a medical exemption.
"Security guards will support our colleagues at the front of store and will challenge customers who are not wearing masks or who are shopping in groups," adding that these steps will "go a long way to keep everyone safe".
Tesco says that it has been focusing on ensuring everyone can get what they need safely since the start of the pandemic.
On current mask rules, a spokeswoman said Tesco "won’t let anyone into our stores who is not wearing a face covering, unless they are exempt in line with Government guidance".
"To support our colleagues, we will have additional security in stores to help manage this.
“Our colleagues are working hard in difficult circumstances to make sure everyone can get what they need, and we’d ask everyone to please be kind, patient and respectful as we all work to keep each other safe.”
Aldi's website says: "In accordance with the recent government announcements, from the 10th July in Scotland, the 24th July in England and the 14th September in Wales, it is mandatory for all customers (with certain exceptions) shopping in our stores to wear a face covering for the duration of their visit.
"We thank you for your cooperation."
Asda security staff can refuse entry to people who won't wear a face mask without a medical reason
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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Asda says customers must wear face coverings in its stores unless they have a medical condition or invisible disability that prevents them from wearing one.
A spokesperson said Covid marshals will continue to work alongside security, offering free coverings to anyone who has forgotten their mask and encourage people follow existing guidelines.
"We are grateful to our colleagues for their hard work in incredibly difficult circumstances and we implore customers to treat them with respect and comply with the mandatory requirement to wear a face covering unless they have a medical exemption.
"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."
Staff in Lidl "may remind customers of the requirement to wear a face covering in our stores", but "understand that some customers are exempt".
Like other supermarkets, anyone who forgets their mask can open a pack at the front of the store then pay for them at the tills.
Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield has asked shoppers to take responsibility and wear a face mask in stores, unless they are exempted.
"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," she said.
"We're all in this together, so would ask our customers to be kind and considerate to our store team, they're doing their best to help."
Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?
Customers and staff who can be exempt from face mask rules include:
- Children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of three for health and safety reasons)
- People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
The government says anyone with an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering can carry an exemption card.
Anyone who has a reason does "not routinely need to show any written evidence of this", nor do they need to show the card.
Although it means people don't need a letter from a medical professional, people can display something such as the card or a badge to show they are exempt.
The government says: "Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law," and templates can be downloaded for printing at home or displaying on phones.