Iceland MD: Cost of enforcing face mask rules would ‘put us out of business’

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“We spend lakhs on security every year but the scale is such that we cannot police every shop, every hour, every hour. It will cost in lakhs and we will be out of business.

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Iceland’s boss says businesses like his cannot afford to wear police masks in stores and has called for more support for businesses when it comes to enforcing Covid restrictions.

Richard Walker said it would cost millions to ensure that customers visiting his stores were wearing face masks.

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Iceland’s MD Walker told the BBC Today programme: “We spend millions on security every year but the scale is such that we can’t police every shop, every hour, every hour. It would cost millions and put us out of business.” will do it.”

Face masks became mandatory again today in shops and on public transport in England as part of efforts to contain the new Omicron strain of COVID-19.

Walker said Iceland would be “politely asking customers” to comply with the rules, but he would not ask employees to apply masks.

“The question is not whether we should make face masks mandatory, it is whether we can make them mandatory,” he said. “What I’m not doing is asking my store associates to police who refuse to follow the rules.”

Walker said asking people to wear masks makes employees targets of abuse. Iceland records an average of 4,000 abuse incidents each year, but this increased to around 50 per week during the first lockdown last year.

“Since employees were told not to challenge customers, this figure dropped tenfold,” he said. “The government must step in and help businesses like ours wear masks and enforce police if they want this to happen.”

Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts told customers today that supermarkets will “have greetings and security guards in front of our supermarkets to support our partners as we help everyone get used to the new rules.”

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It should remain the duty of officers to enforce face coverings.”

The resumption of mask-wearing in stores has raised fears that Christmas sales could drop as customers choose to shop online instead.

However, Brian Bickel, CEO of Shaftesbury’s West End homeowner, told the Standard: “The requirement for people to wear masks is just a minor inconvenience if it means we can all enjoy the Christmas and New Years we have had in the past. The year was not there.”


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