Sainsbury's and Asda say they WON'T enforce facemasks rules

Sainsbury's and Asda say they WON'T enforce facemasks rules

July 23, 2020

Sainsbury’s and Asda say they WON’T enforce facemasks rules as new law comes in requiring them to be worn in all shops from TODAY

  • Sainsbury’s, Asda and Costa Coffee are refusing to force people to wear masks
  • Government guidance states coverings must be worn in shops across England
  • Boris Johnson is asking retailers to encourage customers to follow the law with police saying they are unwilling to enforce laws unless as ‘last resort’ 

Sainsbury’s, Asda and Costa Coffee have said they will not police new coronavirus laws which force customers to wear face masks in all shops from today.

The major retailers say they have no intention of enforcing new rules which will punish people who refuse to cover their faces with a £100 fine.

Government guidance published yesterday states that masks must be worn in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres across England.

Britons must also wear masks in banks, takeaway outlets, post offices and sandwich shops – including when buying food and drink to take out from cafes.  

With police unwilling to enforce the new laws, though, the Government has asked retailers to ‘take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store’.

Government guidance published yesterday states that masks must be worn in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres across England. Britons must also wear masks in banks, takeaway outlets, post offices and sandwich shops – including when buying food and drink to take out from cafes (pictured, Boris Johnson during a visit to Orkney Cheese in Kirkwall)

Asda claimed that ‘it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules’, but said it will ‘strongly encourage customers’ to wear masks

Sainsbury’s said ‘our colleagues will not be responsible for enforcing’ the new rules, though it is asking everyone to continue ‘playing their part’ (pictured, store in Plymouth, March 19)

Several retailers told The Daily Telegraph that they had no intention of forcing people to wear face coverings if they enter their premises unmasked. 

WHO IS EXEMPT FROM WEARING A FACE COVERING UNDER THE NEW LAWS? 

While face coverings will be mandatory in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England from Friday there are some exemptions.

Section three of the Government guidance, published on Thursday, sets out a list of ‘legitimate reasons’ not to wear a covering.

Groups and settings include:

– young children under the age of 11

– those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

– those who will be caused severe distress by putting on, wearing or removing a face covering

– people travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

– to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm

– to eat or drink if reasonably necessary

– to take medication

– if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official

– if you are asked to remove a face covering in a bank, building society, or post office for identification

– if you are asked by shop staff or relevant employees to take a face covering off for identification, or by for example a pharmacist for the purpose of assessing health recommendations, or for age identification purposes including when buying age-restricted products such as alcohol

– if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound to help with communication

It is not mandatory for shop or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face coverings but employers can ask them to do so where appropriate and where other mitigation is not in place, the guidance states.

People exempt from wearing a face covering can choose to carry and show an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign, the Government says. 

Sainsbury’s said ‘our colleagues will not be responsible for enforcing’ the new rules, though it is asking everyone to continue ‘playing their part’.

Asda claimed that ‘it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules’, but said it will ‘strongly encourage customers’ to wear masks.

Costa Coffee has also said that it will ‘not be challenging customers who enter our stores without a mask since they may have a legitimate reason’ not to – which include for disabilities and if wearing a covering may cause ‘severe distress’.

Paul Gerrard, director of public affairs at Co-op Food, told The Telegraph that it is not the job of shop workers to enforce the rules, adding: ‘It’s the police’s job’.

And the Association of Convenience Stores said: ‘We have advised members not to challenge customers unwilling to wear a covering.’ 

Wearing a mask will be compulsory in all shops, stations, banks and post offices from today. Detailed regulations published last night revealed that the new rules go beyond just shops and also require people to cover their faces in all ‘transport hubs’, shopping centres and petrol stations. 

Even customers entering banks – where face coverings are normally discouraged – will be required to don a mask. Failure to comply could result in a £100 spot fine, although police forces have indicated they will only respond as a ‘last resort’.

Only young children and people with medical conditions affected by a mask are exempt. A face covering can only be removed in a shop for a small number of reasons, such as allowing staff to check someone’s identity or age or to communicate with a deaf lip reader. 

Shop staff do not have to wear coverings but it is ‘strongly recommended’ that employers ask them to do so unless other precautions such as screens are in place. 

The new rules are contentious, with some people finding masks uncomfortable and some libertarians complaining they are being ‘muzzled’ by the state. But opinion polls suggest the majority support the change, which will bring England into line with many countries around the world, including France, Germany and Spain. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move was essential for preventing a second wave of coronavirus while continuing to open up the economy. 

Today’s move completes a U-turn by the Government which initially said masks were ineffective in halting the spread of the virus. 

Masks have been compulsory on public transport since July 15 after evolving scientific advice suggested they could help stop Covid sufferers without symptoms from spreading the disease. 

The new guidance states face coverings will be required in takeaway sandwich shops like Pret a Manger. 

Customers who queue for a sandwich can take off their mask to eat it if they find a seat, although Government sources said the practice should be discouraged. 

Entertainment venues and services are not covered by the new rules which state pubs and restaurants will be exempt, as will hairdressers, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas and museums. 

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘You’ve seen over recent months the British public have voluntarily chosen to follow the guidance because they want to help slow the spread of the virus and I’m sure that will be the case with face coverings as well.’ 

However, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Verbal and physical abuse [of staff] rose during the pandemic, and the new rules requiring shoppers to wear masks may further risk staff safety.’   

Luton is made the UK’s latest ‘area of intervention’ after spike in coronavirus cases – meaning gyms and leisure sites will stay closed this weekend when the rest of the nation opens up

By Jack Wright and Luke May for MailOnline 

Luton has been made an ‘area of intervention’ after seeing a spike in coronavirus cases – meaning long-awaited plans to open indoor gyms and leisure centres for locked-down Britons this weekend have been put on hold. 

The council has set up an emergency testing centre at a primary school and is telling locals to stay home as it tries to prevent a further spread of COVID-19. 

In Luton, Bedfordshire the rate of cases fell to 24.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 20 from 31.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 13. 

Councillors have now said it has agreed with Government officials that gyms, pools and other leisure facilities will not reopen as planned on Saturday.

Public Health England has also upgraded Blackburn with Darwen to an ‘area of intervention’ following an increase in the rate of cases from 49.7 cases per 100,000 in the week to July 13 to 81.9 in the week up to July 20. 

It comes ahead of new rules which make it illegal not to wear face masks in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres across England from tomorrow. 

Luton has been made an ‘area of intervention’ after seeing a spike in coronavirus cases – meaning long-awaited plans to open indoor gyms and leisure centres for locked-down Britons this weekend have been put on hold (pictured, a testing centre at Downside School set up by the council for local residents today after a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases)

Covid-19 cases in Britain are still plateauing with almost 2,000 people getting infected each day – and cases are ‘creeping up’ in the north of England, symptom-tracking app study warns 

COVID-19 cases in Britain are barely dropping with almost 2,000 people still becoming infected each day, experts say.

King’s College London’s COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates cases have remained stable over July for the UK as a whole, but appear to be ‘creeping up’ in the north of England.

Some 1,000 people are catching the coronavirus in the North every day, an increase on the 750 estimated last week.

The rise is too small to say definitively that the outbreak is growing once again but the scientists say they are watching the situation closely.

Data also shows there are an estimated 28,048 people in the population who are currently symptomatic, down slightly from the 26,000 the week before. The figure does not include care homes.

Experts warned there is a limited window to get the virus under control in the summer months before the cold weather potentially drives cases up again. 

The leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council has said it is ‘sensible not to relax’ lockdown restrictions, as the rate of COVID-19 cases in the borough shot up.

Councillor Mohammed Khan urged the community to ‘keep up the momentum’ in combating the disease as 122 new cases were recorded in the seven days to July 20. 

‘We are very grateful to our communities for working with us,’ Mr Khan said.

‘The increase in testing is helping to ensure that we are heading in the right direction with a reduction in positive cases and hospital admissions.

‘We need to keep up the momentum with our strong prevention work so we agree it’s sensible not to relax the easing of restrictions at the moment to stop the spread.’

Mr Khan added that the decision to delay the reopening of council leisure facilities would run alongside new ‘localised prevention measures’.

‘We feel that accelerating our control measures in this way will assist us to move out of having higher COVID rates even faster – we are grateful for the Government’s help in our local plans on this,’ he said.

Hazel Simmons, Luton Council leader, said: ‘Our main priority is to protect Luton and these measures only serve to underline the importance of doing just that. Please pass these important messages on to your family and friends and if you can, stay at home.

‘Fighting coronavirus is everyone’s responsibility. Too many families and friends have lost loved ones and we must do everything we can to ensure more lives aren’t wasted unnecessarily. There has been too much heartache in the town for us to risk further anguish, pain and suffering.’

It comes as NHS Test and Trace chief Baroness Dido Harding said that there were still concerns surrounding northern towns including Blackburn, Bradford and Leicester.

She told the BBC that there were ‘a number of areas in the North West that we are working really closely with’.

‘Other towns and cities on our areas of concern, or areas that are receiving enhanced support, would be places like Blackburn, also Bradford – who we saw increase but have now come down from being in our ‘enhanced support’ category to being in our ‘area of concern’ category,’ she said.      

In Luton, Bedfordshire the rate of cases fell to 24.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 20 from 31.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 13 (pictured, the primary school in Luton is being used as a testing centre today and tomorrow for locals as COVID cases spike)

Testing has been ramped up in the town (above), but the government is not expecting a local lockdown, as seen in Leicester earlier this month, to be implemented

NHS Test and Trace is failing in areas with high BAME populations because of ‘language barriers and trust issues’, experts warn 

NHS Test and Trace is still failing to track down up to half of COVID-19 patients’ contacts in areas most at risk of local lockdowns, it emerged last night.

Experts say language barriers are one of the main factors behind the low success rates, as many of England’s worst-affected areas have high numbers of residents from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.

In Luton, which has the fifth highest infection rate in England, just 47 per cent of potentially-infected people were contacted by the system since its launch on May 28.

A fifth of the population in the Bedfordshire town do not speak English as their first language, according to Statista.

Only 65 per cent of close contacts in Leicester – which had to retreat back into lockdown last month after a spike in cases – were tracked down by tracers.

It means 3,340 people who may have had the disease in the city slipped under the radar and could have spread it further through the population. For more than a quarter of people in Leicester (27.5 per cent), English is not their native language.

Scientists have repeatedly warned contact tracing systems need to catch and isolate 80 per cent of potential COVID-19 patients to keep the epidemic squashed.

Lady Harding added there were particular concerns about coronavirus spreading in South Asian communities in England.

‘We are all learning what makes different communities, different professions, different parts of the country more vulnerable,’ she told the broadcaster.

‘I don’t think there’s a simple answer to say why one place and not another.

‘There are a mix of things – certainly we are seeing a very high prevalence in the South Asian community across the country.’

Public Health England defines such areas as those ‘where there is divergence from the measures in place in the rest of England because of the significance of the spread, with a detailed action plan in place, and local resources augmented with a national support’. 

Testing has been ramped up in the town to track who may have come into contact with the disease. 

Today an emergency testing centre was set up at Downside Primary School, which will continue to test locals tomorrow.

According to Sky News, the government is not expecting a similar local lockdown scenario to the one seen in Leicester earlier this month. 

Luton has emerged as one of the towns where the government’s test and trace programme may have failed locals 

Experts say language barriers are one of the main factors behind the low success rates, as many of England’s worst-affected areas have high numbers of residents from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds. 

Figures released today suggest just 47 per cent of potentially-infected people in the town were contacted by the system since its launch on May 28. 

Earlier today it was announced another 53 people have died from coronavirus in the UK, according to the Government, taking the total to 45,554. 

However, there are zero new victims in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the countries’ own health agencies said, suggesting today’s fatalities reported by the Department of Health were all in England. 

While the deaths falling is good news, however, the number of people being diagnosed with the disease has surged to 769 from 560 yesterday and one-week low of 445 on Tuesday.  

The seven-day average has risen more than 12 per cent compared with last week – from an average 584 per day to 656, and by 15 per cent in two weeks.

King’s College London experts – who predict infections over the UK, and don’t just account for positive test results which are limited to people with symptoms – say the number of people catching the virus every day is not getting lower and has barely changed over July. And it may be rising in the north of England. 

Today marked the eighth day in a row that no deaths have been recorded in Scotland and only one death has been counted in the past fortnight. Experts believe the country will be coronavirus-free by the end of summer.

 

Lockdowns DON’T work, study claims: Researchers say forced stay-at-home orders were not associated with lower coronavirus deaths in countries around the world

By Ben Spencer, Medical Correspondent for The Daily Mail, and Vanessa Chalmers, Health Reporter for MailOnline 

Lockdowns have not had a big impact on coronavirus death rates around the world, scientists have claimed.

Dozens of countries have been forced to tell people to stay home and close shops in a bid to stop the Covid-19 pandemic since it broke out in January.

But now a study has claimed the drastic measures don’t even work. They found whether a country was locked down or not was ‘not associated’ with death rate.

Instead the health of each nation before the pandemic largely played a role, including obesity rates and age.

It could explain why countries such as Britain – with some of Europe’s worst obesity rates – have had such a high death toll.

The early closure of international borders seemed to lower cases, but did not translate to real lives saved. 

Lockdowns have not had a big impact on coronavirus death rates around the world, scientists have claimed. Pictured, a closed shop in Britain

WHAT DO OTHER STUDIES SAY ABOUT LOCKDOWN SUCCESS?

Another study from University of East Anglia suggested draconian stay-at-home orders and shutting all non-essential businesses had little effect on fighting coronavirus in Europe.

But the same scientists discovered closing schools and banning all mass gatherings did work in slowing outbreaks across the continent. 

Other leading scientists have claimed Britain’s COVID-19 outbreak peaked and started to decline before the official lockdown began, arguing that Number 10’s drastic policy to shut the UK down was wrong. 

However, some studies directly contradict the theory that lockdown was pointless.

A scientific paper from Imperial University in London published in June found lockdown likely saved almost half a million lives in the UK alone.

Coronavirus lockdowns across Europe probably prevented up to three million COVID-related deaths, the team led by Professor Neil Ferguson found.

The UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy each dodged up to 500,000 coronavirus deaths or more because of their draconian policies, the team estimated.

A separate study also published in June suggested around 500million Covid-19 cases were prevented by lockdowns in six countries, including the US.

A study of 149 countries suggested earlier lockdown restrictions slashed the number of Covid-19 cases. 

Researchers measured how numbers of Covid-19 cases changed over the course of the pandemic and whether they dropped in the days following strict rules.

Physical distancing measures such as closure of schools, workplaces and public transport, a ban on mass gatherings, and full-scale lockdowns led to a larger reduction in cases when they were implemented early than late – 14 per cent compared with 10 per cent. 

It took an average of nine days for countries to recommend social distancing once the first case was detected there. But some countries took far longer.

Britain was one of the slowest to introduce the life-saving lockdown measures along with Thailand, Australia and Canada. 

It took 45 days from the first reported case, on January 31, for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to advise social distancing on March 16. The full lockdown didn’t come for another week, starting on March 23.

Cases shrunk by 17 per cent as a result, which was higher than the average but low compared to fast-reacting Andorra where cases dropped by 36 per cent.  

The study compared mortality rates and cases in 50 different countries worst hit by the pandemic up until May 1.

Experts from the University of Toronto and the University of Texas calculated that among these badly-hit nations, only 33 out of every million people had been killed by the virus.

That rate, however, has since increased markedly, and is now at 80 per million globally, and still rising. Britain has seen 670 deaths per million.

The researchers constructed a mathematical model to measure the impact of each country’s response on coronavirus cases and deaths.

They then compared this to demographic factors such as age, smoking and obesity. 

Dr Sheila Riazi and colleagues found imposition of lockdown measures succeeded in stopping health systems becoming overwhelmed by a surge in patients.

This was the UK Government’s primary aim when it imposed restrictions back in March – to protect the NHS and ultimately save lives. 

But although this raised the chance that someone with Covid would recover from the virus, it did not actually translate into a significant reduction in death rates.

Restricting movements and closing borders also had no significant impact on Covid-19 fatalities, even if early border closures appeared to significantly lower cases and lessen the peak of transmission, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed. 

Countries with widespread mass testing did not appear to have fewer critical cases, or deaths per million, the study claimed.  

‘Government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality. 

‘The number of days to any border closure was associated with the number of cases per million.

‘This suggests that full lockdowns and early border closures may lessen the peak of transmission, and thus prevent health system overcapacity, which would facilitate increased recovery rates.’ 

But the scientists didn’t find any evidence that this actually saved lives.

It was population demographics and underlying health – particularly obesity rates – which has determined which countries have been worst-hit by the virus, the researchers found.

Nations with above-average obesity rates were 12 per cent more likely to have significantly higher death rates than those without.

It’s relevant for Britain – which has one of the biggest obesity problems in Europe – with two thirds of adults and a third of children overweight.

The authors wrote: ‘Consistent with reported COVID-19 outcome data from Europe, the United States, and China, higher caseloads and overall mortality were associated with comorbidities such as obesity.’

Countries with a higher median population age were 10 per cent more like;y to have a large caseload.

A surprising finding was that nations with higher smoking rates had fewer deaths.

It adds weight to the emerging argument that tobacco use may protect against coronavirus, with a slew of studies finding bizarrely low levels of smokers among hospital patients.

The researchers, however, warned the findings may just be because countries with high smoking prevalence tend to be those with younger populations.

FACE COVERINGS ENCOURAGED IN ENGLISH COURTS FROM MONDAY

Members of the public attending courts and tribunals in England are being asked to wear face coverings from next week, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has said.

The rules, which come into effect from Monday July 27, are being imposed to minimise the risk of coronavirus in HMCTS buildings, though people may need to temporarily remove masks for identification purposes.

Those speaking or giving evidence in the courtroom may also be made to remove their face coverings by a judge, but must maintain a strict two-metre distance.

Exemptions also apply to people with disabilities or health issues that make wearing masks difficult and the deaf, who may need to read another person’s lips.

Courtrooms themselves will ‘continue to be covered by the current guidance’ which says that court users may wear face coverings whilst in the courtroom, HMCTS said.

The guidance refers to the use of face coverings in English courts and tribunals only.

People attending buildings in Wales and Scotland are also permitted to wear them, but they are not mandatory. 

Young people are less likely to get severely ill from the coronavirus, and therefore countries with a younger population have tended to be less badly hit by the pandemic.   

The team also found wealthier nations had fared worse, probably because international travel meant more cases were imported at the beginning of the crisis.  

This, they believe, is due to ‘accessibility to air travel and international holidays’, as ‘travel was identified as an important factor contributing to international viral spread’.

The team, writing in the Lancet online journal EClinicalMedicine, said: ‘Government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of Covid-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.’ 

Some experts are skeptical of the findings, however, suggesting the findings have been exaggerated.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge, said: ‘A large number of possible predictors are put into a model with only 50 observations, and then the resulting formulae are over-interpreted.’

Dr Louise Dyson of the University of Warwick, said: ‘While population demographics such as median age and obesity prevalence were found to be associated with increased mortality, this should not be interpreted as implying that these were more important than government interventions such as lockdowns.’   

It comes amid mounting concern that the full-scale shutdown on Britain’s movement will have devastating consequences.

The resulting economic impact is expected to drive up physical and mental health problems both in the short and long term. 

Professor Mark Woolhouse, an infectious diseases expert at Edinburgh University and a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, warned earlier this month: ‘When the reckoning comes we may well find that the cure turned out to be far worse than the disease.’ 

But other British scientists have been adamant the lockdown was necessary, and was so important it should have been enforced weeks before it was, on March 23. 

Professor Neil Ferguson – the academic whose work led to Britain’s lockdown – says the lockdown likely saved almost half a million lives in the UK alone. 

His team at Imperial University in London found coronavirus lockdowns across Europe probably prevented up to three million COVID-related deaths.

‘Professor Lockdown’ has also conceded that, in hindsight, tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if the lockdown had come a week earlier. 

A separate study also published in June suggested around 500million Covid-19 cases were prevented by lockdowns in six countries, including the US.   

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