Face coverings in shops – updated guidance

Face coverings in shops – updated guidance

Face covering in shops will become mandatory in Wales from Monday 14 September.

This change already went live on Friday 10 July in Scotland, England on Friday 24 July, 10 August in Northern Ireland.

Below is an overview on the changes:

  • Retailers are not expected to enforce customers to wear face coverings. The duty of enforcing this lies with the Police.
  • It is fine to initially challenge customers, and shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage compliance with the law (as they would do more generally) and can refuse entry.
  • Face covering exemptions apply to children (ages differ) and those with certain health conditions, but customers do not need to provide a letter to explain why they are exempt – important guidance is below
  • Postmasters can choose to refuse customer entry into branches. You can read the latest information about the changes here (branches in Scotland) and here for (branches in England) and here (branches in Northern Ireland) and here (branches in Wales).
  • We do not plan to provide supplies of face coverings to Postmasters for customers who arrive without a face covering. This requirement has not been set out by Government and our understanding is that customers are expected to provide their own face coverings.

Important guidance around people who are exempt from wearing face coverings
While wearing a face covering is mandatory in branches and shops, some people are not required to wear them or find it more difficult, and the reason isn’t always visible. If you or your team are not sure which groups of people don’t have to wear a face covering, please check the guidance here for Scotland, here for England, here for Northern Ireland or here for Wales.

While some of those customers may feel more comfortable carrying a card, badge or similar to show they are exempt from wearing a face covering, they don’t have to do so – it is their personal choice. You can read the full Government guidance here. Please remember it’s not down to retailers to enforce the rules on face coverings – that is for the police to do.

Support we have provided to Postmasters

  • We have sent all Postmasters and branch team members face visors to wear around the branch, especially when on the public side of the counter. It is important you wear this when on the shop floor interacting with the public, working at open plan positions without a screen, parcel positions and especially when social distancing is less than 2m if you are a small branch.
  • We have also designed a customer information poster which is available to branches to download, print and display this week.
  • Branches in Scotland can download a colour or black and white version.
  • Branches in England can download a colour or black and white version.
  • Branches in Northern Ireland can download colour or black and white version.
  • Branch in Wales can download welsh black and white version or an English colour or black and white version

As an independent retailer it is your responsibility to have the right Health and Safety measures in place to protect anyone involved in your business operations, including yourself, your teams, customers and visitors.

Some latest FAQs to support you are below.

If there are any major updates we’ll keep you updated through the weekly email from Amanda Jones to Postmasters.

Face coverings Q&A:

  1. If we are behind a fortress counter do we have to wear the masks?
    Visors should be worn when serving at parcel hatches or exit points to public areas. If you are a small branch, where social distancing at 2m behind the counter is a problem and not possible then please wear your face visor.
  2. If we come out of the fortress onto the shop side do we have to put on our face covering?
    Yes, if you are on the shop floor on the public side then you should wear your face visor. This also sets a good example to visitors and customers coming into your branch.
  3. If we are on an open plan counter, do we have to wear the masks?
    Yes, if there is no screen, and social distancing at 2m is not possible then please wear a face visor.
  4. Can I refuse entry to our customers who are not wearing a mask?
    They are your customers so we would expect you would do the right thing for your customers and community. We are providing posters to help you inform customers about these changes. Our advice is that it’s fine to initially challenge customers. Government guidance says retailers can refuse entry.  The role of enforcing wearing face coverings lies with Police.
  5. What should I do if I need to complete an ID check for a customer?
    If an ID or photo check or verification is required for a transaction, then ask the customer to remove their face covering so you can carry this out. Please maintain social distancing for ID checks.
  6. I have CCTV which I have to use on a regular basis, face masks are going to have a negative impact. What guidance is there on this?
    Given the current public health guidance from the Government, we are not permitted to and nor do we have the right to ask customers to remove their facemasks for CCTV purposes.
  7. To oversee or police this properly we would need someone on the front door which I cannot afford the cost. What should I do?
    You are not expected to have security in your branch. Our advice is that it’s fine to initially challenge customers, but we do not expect Postmasters to proactively monitor and manage this. If customers do not comply then the role of enforcing this lies with Police.
  8. What exemptions are in place?
    There are certain exemptions in place. This includes children (under the age of 11 in England and Wales and under the age of 5 in Scotland, under the age of 13 in Northern Ireland), people with certain disabilities, those with breathing difficulties or vulnerable customers, which many of you may see and support in your branch.
    The exemptions list is available for retailers in Scotland here and for retailers in England here, for Northern Ireland here and for Wales here
  9. Where can I read more guidance for retailers?
    The Government website has further guidance for shops and branches. Read this here - this will be updated on a regular basis. 

Please contact your Area Manager if you have any further question or concerns.



*image courtesy of ACS