Coronavirus: What comes next for independent retailers?

Face coverings will be mandatory for all shoppers in Scotland from 10 July to ‘reduce risk’ as the country continues to reopen.

Nicola Sturgeon announced “Face coverings in shops will be compulsory from the end of next week but please don’t wait until then, get into the habit now.”

Shop owners north of the border told betterRetailing they supported the move, but felt it may have come too late. Scottish district president Ferhan Ashiq, owner of Levenhall Village Store in Musselburgh, East Lothian said: “We’re three months on and we’re asking people to comply with a new measure, when compliance with the existing measures is approaching the end of the line for many people. There’s been a noticeable change in the last two weeks.”

Kevin Donald of Mitchells Newsagents in Blairgowrie, Perthshire added: “It’s probably the right move but it should have been done earlier, we’ll start wearing masks now to set an exanple.”

Donald said his local Sainsbury’s had also begun to enforce a mandatory face covering policy this week. Asked how he would police the new law in his store, Donald answered: “I don’t know that you can, you never know who might have a legitimate medical reason not to be wearing one, and it’s a very personal thing to make someone explain.”

Ashiq agreed: “There’s only so much we can do, if we have the posters and signs up advising people we’re doing our job it would be very tricky to police this.”

The store owners also suggested the measure was likely to grow demand for face coverings. The district president admitted: “We’re not that well stocked, sales of masks had been slow but this will cause it to really ramp up.”

Donald said he had already increased one order after experience a surge in demand within 30 minutes of the policy being announced on 2 July. “We have the standard coverings and masks and also locally crafted coverings, just a minute a go we increased our order of the locally made coverings from 100 to 150. We’ve had five customers coming in to purchase coverings and asking about the new law already.”

From 15 July, indoor pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen. Unlike in England, 2m social distancing will remain mandatory in Scotland in most areas. However, Speaking on 2 July, the Scottish first minister revealed ‘specific sectors’ may be given exemptions if a one metre rule and other risk mitigating measures are put in place. Any businesses given an exemption will have to display signs warning customers they are entering ‘a one-metre zone.’



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