Face masks are no longer mandatory – but many shops are asking customers not to ditch them just yet.
Government rules enforcing masks for those able to wear them and imposing fines for those who don’t lifted on July 19.
But people are still advised to wear them in crowded indoor areas, with shops among the places where Covid precautions could still be important.
Read more:Face mask rules in Eldon Sqaure and the Metrocentre
The Mirror asked major retailers what their plans for mask-wearing are as the date dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ hits.
Many will still require workers to mask up, and will be asking customers to do the same.
Here’s what some of England’s biggest stores said:
The clothing store has asked people to wear a mask if they are able.
A Primark spokesperson said: “Even though it will no longer be a legal requirement, we hope that people will continue to think of others and wear a face covering if they can.”
There may still be queues outside in busy times, and there will still be hand sanitiser stations and perspex screens in place.
M&S will remind people of the recommendation to wear masks even when it isn’t legally mandated. An M&S Spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic our stores have offered a safe and welcoming environment for our customers and colleagues and that will remain the case.
“From 19 th July face coverings will be a matter of personal choice across England but signage will remain in our shops to highlight the government recommendations to wear them in busy and enclosed spaces.”
Poundland says it will be up to its shoppers to decide whether they want to wear face masks from today in England.
At the moment, it provides free face coverings for those who don’t have one – but you may have to purchase one from today now the rules have changes.
A spokesperson for the retailer said: “We recognise that the rules in England change on Monday to make mask wearing a personal choice and we’ll update our signage to reflect that.
“While it’s a personal choice in England, we understand why many customers and colleagues will want to still wear them.”
Wilko is recommending face coverings for staff and is asking customers to “show their support by wearing theirs while shopping too”.
A Wilko spokesperson said: “Our customers and team members know we’ve a way to go before we get back to normal.
“Safety remains a top priority and we’ll be continuing with our enhanced measures.”
Argos has confirmed it’ll be encouraging shoppers in England to wear a mask unless they’re exempt.
But the store recognises government guidance on ‘personal choice’.
B&M hasn’t said if it will still encourage shoppers in England to wear face masks from today.
But if it follows other retailers, it is likely you may still be asked to wear a covering if you’re not exempt to help everyone feel safe.
Shop entrances are likely to still have hand sanitiser stations as well, and till points will have plastic screens still installed.
B&Q shops in England will have signs in stores will ask shoppers to continue to wear face masks unless exempt.
The retailer will also ask shoppers to keep a safe distance from others.
Hand sanitiser stations and plastic screens at checkouts will also stay in place/
John Lewis shoppers in England will be asked to carry on wearing face masks but again, shop staff won’t force you.
The retailer said: “The decision over whether to do so or not, when in our shops, will be for each individual to take.”
Wearing a mask will be “based on your own judgement” so you may be encouraged to use one when shops are particularly busy.
Ikea says wearing a face mask is now “a personal choice for customers and co-workers” but it will encourage shoppers to wear one if they can.
Hand sanitiser stations and other safety precautions are also likely to still be in use across its stores.
Like other retailers, H&M is also encouraging shoppers in England to keep wearing a face mask if they can.
A H&M spokesperson said: “With the safety of our colleagues and customers being our top priority, H&M encourages colleagues and customers who can wear a face covering to continue doing so.
“This will provide an additional layer of protection and safety for everyone.”
H&M has a limited number of open fitting rooms at the moment but you could see more open from today.
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