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Facemasks: operators in limbo where retail and foodservice boundaries blur

15 July 2020 by

Hospitality operators with both retail and restaurant offers were left to decide whether their staff and customers should wear facemasks yesterday, after environment secretary George Eustice said coverings wouldn't be compulsory in hospitality venues.

Damian Wawrzyniak, who runs House of Feasts restaurant in Peterborough, questioned whether his customers and staff should wear masks as the business also contains a delicatessen.

"I've made the very important decision, from now on all my staff will wear face masks," he wrote on Twitter. "We don't want to experience second wave of Covid-19 and my guests and my team is most important."

Others told The Caterer that the rules were unclear whether coffee shops like Pret A Manger and Starbucks, which often have a largely retail offer and sometimes very little guest seating, would count as retailers and therefore require customers to wear masks.

Simon Cotton, managing director of HRH Hotel Group in Harrogate, welcomed the news that masks weren't being made compulsory in pubs and restaurants.

"I keep being asked if I think it's right or fair that people have to wear masks in supermarkets but not in hospitality venues," he said. "Of course it is. Shopping is a necessity, hospitality is a choice… enough said.

"If you want to guarantee not to get [the virus], stay home. If you're less worried, go out. There has to be a balance between not getting it and creating herd immunity."

He said that his staff have the option of wearing PPE if they wish.

Eustice yesterday said the requirement for face coverings would not be extended across hospitality venues from 24 July because "obviously people have got to eat" in pubs and restaurants.

The environment secretary said he suspects "a lot more people" will wear masks following the announcement, although they will not become mandatory for another 10 days.

Failure to wear facemasks in shops and supermarkets could see the issuing of fines up to £100, when the requirement comes into full force from 24 July.

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