Retail trade union Usdaw is reminding shoppers that the wearing of face coverings is mandatory from today (10 August) in shops and shopping centres in Northern Ireland.
Usdaw asks shoppers to follow the law and help protect shopworkers and other customers by wearing a face covering, while following existing social distancing and hygiene procedures.
It said shopworkers should not be responsible for enforcing the rules and abuse is not part of the job.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “We encourage everyone to support shopworkers by remembering to wear a face covering, unless you are covered by an exemption. We’ve been talking to employers about this and making sure that they have clear policies and procedures in place.
“We expect employers to put up clear signage to remind customers about the rules. It needs to be made clear by the Executive that shopworkers are not responsible for enforcing the law, because we are concerned that it may be a flashpoint for abuse of staff.”
Lillis added: “Although shopworkers are not legally required to wear a face covering, employers might encourage or require staff to wear them in some circumstances. Employers must be aware that staff will need regular breaks when they can take their face covering off and have the opportunity to replace it.
“We also want to make it clear that face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing measures that are already in place, such as screens, distance markers, hygiene measures and limits on numbers of customers in stores. We expect employers to keep these in place and support our members in making sure that customers follow the rules.”
He concluded: “We ask all customers to wear a face covering and keep following social distancing measures. We also ask you to remember that shopworkers are doing their best in a difficult situation, and to always treat them with the respect they deserve.”