Sainsbury’s has become the second British supermarket to ban customers who refuse to wear a face mask amid a crackdown on Covid rulebreakers.
The chain said shoppers will be prevented from entering without a face mask, while shopping in groups will also be banned.
Sainsbury’s will put trained security guards at the front of stores to enforce the rules and reduce the number of customers allowed into the shop at any one time to help social distancing.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in our stores reviewing the latest situation over the last few days and on behalf of all my colleagues, I am asking our customers to help us keep everyone safe,” said chief executive Simon Roberts.
“The vast majority of customers are shopping safely, but I have also seen some customers trying to shop without a mask and shopping in larger family groups.”
The move comes after rival Morrisons said shoppers who turn down masks offered by staff will be refused entry unless they are medically exempt.
Chief executive David Potts called for members of the public to “be kind” to the supermarket giant’s 110,000 employees.
Under current government rules, people in England are required by law to wear face coverings in most indoor areas including shops, supermarkets, public transport and places of worship.
But ministers are understood to be drawing up tougher measures on social distancing and mask wearing amid fears compliance has fallen.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said that “now is the moment of maximum vigilance” warning that measures could be toughened if Brits failed to follow the rules.
The Metropolitan Police is also taking a more hardline approach to rule breakers, warning people will face fines if they have no legitimate reason for leaving their homes.