Unite has welcomed the government making face coverings in shops in England mandatory from July 24 in the same way that they have been required on public transport since June 11.
Unite-branded face coverings, which comply with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, are also now on sale for pre-order.
Although widely anticipated, the government officially made the announcement that face coverings would be mandatory in shops on Tuesday (July 14) after growing pressure to conform to action taken in Scotland and other European nations such as Italy, Spain and France.
Growing scientific evidence has shown that people wearing face coverings in confined public spaces helps stop the transmission of the virus.
Making the announcement in the Commons, health secretary Matt Hanckock said, “Sadly, sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disproportionately in this crisis.
“The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.”
“There is also evidence that face coverings increase confidence in people to shop,” he added.
Hancock said the new rules would be enforced by police and would carry a penalty of £100 for non-compliance, decreasing to £50 if paid within 14 days. Shops may refuse entry to people not wearing masks and may call the police if customers do not comply.
Unite national health and safety advisor Rob Miguel welcomed the news, saying that as long as everyone wears the correct face coverings in specific settings such as shops and public transport, it can effectively stop the virus from spreading.
Highlighting the new Unite-branded face coverings now available on pre-order, Miguel said, “We spent a significant amount of time with the designers of the face coverings to ensure that the materials and construction are compliant with World Health Organisation (WHO) manufacturing guidelines.”
“The Unite face coverings have three layers. The outer layer is hydrophobic, or water resistant, and is made with polyster and lycra. The nonwoven middle outer layer is spunbonded polypropylene while the inner layer is 100 per cent cotton. This allows for good filtration and people who purchase the face coverings can be confident that they’re effective as source control coverings.”
Miguel emphasised however that they are not to be used as personal protective equipment (PPE) in health care settings or workplaces such as construction sites and should only be used in suitable settings such as shops and on public transport.
“We urge the public to ensure that any face coverings they purchase are WHO compliant, with at least three layers and made of hydrophobic material,” he added.
You can pre-order your Unite-branded face covering, which is washable up to 50 times, on our website here. Stock will be available from August 3rd.
By Hajera Blagg