ASDA and Sainsbury’s won’t enforce new rules saying customers must wear face masks shops from today.
The supermarkets have joined other shops including Costa Coffee saying it is not their responsibility to ‘police’ customers.
New rules mean coverings must be worn in shops – with those flouting the law in England facing a £100 fine.
Customers are also breaking the law by not wearing masks in banks, post offices, shopping centres, takeaways and sandwich shops.
But several retailers say they have no intention of policing the laws, which come into play on July 24.
Sainsbury’s said while it is asking everyone to continue “playing their part” in helping to keep shoppers safe by following the rules, “our colleagues will not be responsible for enforcing them”.
Asda said it will “strongly encourage customers to wear a face covering,” but added: “It is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to police and enforce the new rules.”
Costa Coffee said it would “not be challenging customers who enter our stores without a mask since they may have a legitimate reason as to why they are unable to wear one”.
Tesco will be selling face coverings at the entrance and Waitrose said staff would be at the doors to remind customers of the requirement.
But customers will be “required” to wear a face covering in Greggs.
McDonald’s said takeaway customers will need to wear face coverings but those who eat in the restaurant will not, unless they are moving around the premises to use toilets or when at self-order screens for example.
The British Retail Consortium called on customers to be “respectful” of the new rules and criticised the Government for taking so long to publish the new laws and guidance.
Police have already said they won’t be enforcing the wearing of masks in shops.
Devon and Cornwall police became the first force in the UK to admit officers will not respond to calls about shoppers refusing to wear masks.
Its police and crime commissioner, Alison Hernandez, said cops were far too busy to enforce the Covid-19 fighting laws unless there was violence or disorder involved.
Thames Valley police have also announced the same.
And Met chief Dame Cressida Dick said she hopes people will be “shamed” into wearing face coverings rather than having to be fined.
She said cops would only intervene “as a last resort” or if customers become “aggressive”.
The PM’s spokesman said shopkeepers should only “escalate” matters to police if customers refuse to wear a mask or leave their store.
He added: “The overwhelming majority of the public can be trusted to follow the rules without any need for enforcement action.”