Mandate Trade Union calls for compulsory face coverings in shops and supermarkets

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Mandate Trade Union has called for compulsory face coverings for customers in shops and supermarkets to protect retail workers from the dangers of contracting COVID19.

John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary, today called on the government to engage with the union to discuss and agree protocols for the implementation of the mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops and supermarkets.

Mr Douglas said, “Decisions to protect the lives of retail workers must be taken without unnecessary delay and following direct consultation with the workers representative union, Mandate.

Yesterday the UK Health Minister announced mandatory measures from 24th July to protect shop workers who he worryingly said, ‘can be up to 75% more likely to die from coronavirus than the general population.’”

Douglas continued, “Therefore it is imperative we act collectively to ascertain the exact high level of risk posed to shop workers in Ireland by the spread of coronavirus, as well as acting swiftly to ensure mandatory face covering measures are implemented and compliance ensured for the protection of shop workers health.”

Mandate is calling for an agreed protocol in consultation with government for the mandatory wearing of face coverings.

Mr Douglas said, “Any agreed measures should look at the inclusion of exemptions for health reasons, non-requirement circumstances such as working behind screens and what, if any, punitive measures are to be applied to non-compliance.

“We are very clear that workers must be free from forcing public compliance on the wearing of face coverings and that employers must put in place measures to protect staff against abusive behaviour in that regard.”

Any mandatory face coverings in shops and supermarkets must be part of a suite of measures intended to protect shop workers lives for the foreseeable future.

Mr Douglas concluded, “The wearing of face coverings is not a substitute for alcohol based hand washing and the continuing enforcement of social distancing measures. Rather, the wearing of face masks in shops and supermarkets will be an added protective measure taken to ensure we can keep retail workers as safe as possible. Wearing face coverings in shops and supermarkets should be seen as a reasonable mitigation against the unprecedented risk posed by the Coronavirus to those brave front line workers.”