Council Condemns Sainsbury’s Over Facemask Policy

Supermarket singled out for criticism due to lack of enforcement

Sainsbury's on Townmead Road, Fulham
Sainsbury's on Townmead Road, Fulham. Picture: Google Streetview

Sainsbury’s has been slammed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council for its refusal to make customers wear a face mask.

Councillor Ben Coleman, the borough’s cabinet member for health, spoke out following a high volume of complaints about the supermarket giant.

He said all shops should encourage customers to wear a face covering in order to protect their staff, especially those who may have family members with an underlying health condition.

Sainsbury’s was one of several supermarket brands that said they would not expect staff to “enforce” the wearing of masks.

This was after the Government announced in July that wearing them should be “mandatory” in all shops, although it was not put into law.

Mr Coleman’s words came after Hammersmith and Fulham’s coronavirus infection rate hit 18.3 per 100,000 people last week – the second highest rate of any borough in London.

On Monday, September 7, he said: “We [the council] have had a lot of complaints about supermarkets, and one particular supermarket which has been named a lot, and which itself has said it has no intention of enforcing the mask wearing rules, is Sainsbury’s.

“And we will be looking in more detail at the complaints we have had about them.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We are asking everyone to continue playing their part in helping us to keep everyone safe in our stores and to wear face coverings, in line with the Government guidance.

“Posters are displayed inside and outside our stores and there are regular tannoy announcements asking customers to follow the new rules.”

There are 11 Sainsbury’s Local branches in the borough, as well as larger stores in Hammersmith town centre and Sands End.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Coleman went on to say, “I don’t know exactly the number of complaints the council has had [about Sainsbury’s] but I look on Twitter and Nextdoor and residents have been contacting their councillors who have been passing complaints on.”

He added: “If anyone has concerns about shops, particularly larger shops, which are not making the efforts to encourage shoppers and staff to wear masks, or are not offering hand sanitiser, they should contact their local councillor who will then make the director of public health aware.”

Mr Coleman also spoke of a recent visit he made to Paperchase in Hammersmith, in which he witnessed two staff ask a customer to put on a mask, and offered the customer a free mask to wear.

“I said well done to the women for what they did, and they told me they both have people at home they are trying to protect.

“Paperchase has been trying to protect their staff and their customers,” said Mr Coleman.

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter

September 11, 2020