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Flip-flopping by the Government on face coverings in shops risks confusion and conflict says Usdaw

Date: 19 January 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw has expressed deep disappointment that the Government will end the mandatory wearing of face covering in shops in England next week.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are deeply concerned that the decision to again end mandatory face coverings in shops is more to do with saving the Prime Minister’s job than covid safety. They have been throwing ‘red meat’ to Tory backbenchers all week, trying to shore up support for the PM, and this is their latest attempt.

“It beggars belief that the Government chose to dismiss the concerns of our members and many workers who are desperately worried about restrictions being lifted while case numbers remain high. We understand that the Government has to scale back ‘Plan B’, but surely this should be done in a more measured and gradual manner.

“The Government could have eased existing restrictions while maintaining safety measures in businesses that have been open throughout the pandemic, like supermarkets. Face coverings, hand hygiene and social distancing had pretty much become the norm in retail, but constantly changing the rules is unhelpful.

“The Government has again decided that important safety measures to protect staff and customers are now a matter of personal choice. They have subcontracted responsibility for safety out to the public, which is a recipe for confusion and covid. Protection for retail workers through wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing in busy public areas like shops should be backed up by the law.

“We urge the shopping public to show their support and respect for shopworkers by continuing to wear a face covering, observe hand hygiene and maintain social distancing when in store. Many retail workers are at a greater risk of catching the virus and bringing it home to their families. They have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the country fed and deserve to be valued, respected and protected.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers