Retailers in Scotland have reported frustrations with the announcement that masks would have to still be worn in stores even after ‘Freedom Day’ on 9 August 2021.
The country’s move to ‘level zero’ Covid restrictions will take place on 19 July, and speaking on 22 June, first minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced a further ‘significant step back to normality’ will take place on 9 August, with the removal of remaining restrictions.
However, the pledge was softened by the politician, who added: “We are likely to require continued wearing of face coverings in certain settings – for example, shops and public transport.”
Sturgeon added that customers and staff not vaccinated would be advised to continue ‘keeping a careful distance’ from others.
Responding to the news, NFRN members expressed frustration and reported that maintaining the policy in stores was being ‘undermined’ by high-profile exceptions to the rules.
Stores are advised to display posters encouraging customers to comply with the law but are not legally required to enforce the wearing of masks in store. Abdul Qadar, owner of Capital News in Edinburgh, said that it is not ‘his position to enforce face coverings’ and that he believed the extension would cause issues for store staff that are tasked with enforcing it.
He said: “I have no plans to enforce face coverings now or after 9 August,” he told Better Retailing, adding concerns that the delay to removing restrictions would harm businesses. “Lifting the social distancing regulations will also mean people will be holding back on travelling, which could mean fewer customers,” he added.
Mo Razzaq, owner of Jack’s of Blantyre in South Lanarkshire, agreed with Qadar and explained his decision. He said: “The reason is quite simple. We are not the police, so we should not have to enforce mask wearing.
“My staff wear masks because they have decided to do so themselves, but we are not instructing customers to wear masks. I will not put my staff in a position that could cause them harm.”
“The messages we get from the government are confusing. They allow footballers who have played with players who have tested positive for Covid-19 to play as normal.
“A lot of locals in Blantyre are virtually ignoring the government guidelines because there seems to be one set of rules for some and another for others.”
Find out more on our coronavirus information hub for retailers