A new set of rules came into play nationwide earlier this week making it a criminal offence not to wear masks in shops and on transport unless exempt.

While the rules are pretty clear, there is still a lot of confusion and concern over how exactly they will be enforced.

Some supermarket bosses have already said their staff will not challenge those who aren’t wearing masks, with Iceland boss Richard Walker saying staff are "already working under significant pressure".

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With that in mind - and with the rules in force for a number of days now - we went on a whistle-stop tour of some of the biggest supermarkets to see just how the rules were being followed by both customers and staff and whether they had actually made any difference.


Our first visit of the day was at the Lidl in Stretford.

The Lidl in Stretford on Friday afternoon

Lidl bosses have said they will continue to follow the government’s advice and ask all customers entering their stores to wear a mask.

However at the time of our visit - at just after 2.30pm on Friday afternoon - there wasn’t really anything different greeting us at the entrance of the shop.

Customers seemed to be free to come in and out as they pleased, with just a couple of signs reminding people that wearing a mask was now mandatory again.

A wasted opportunity not to refer to it as the 'Midl of Lidl', tbh

Inside, it was fairly quiet but the majority of customers were wearing masks as were all staff members.

There was one man who seemed to follow us around my entire journey of the aisles who wasn’t wearing a mask and another who had his mask on his chin but, other than those two, everyone seemed to be following the rules.


Next up was the massive Tesco opposite Lidl in Stretford.

There were a fair few signs reminding us all of Boris Johnson's ‘hands, face, space’ mantra of earlier this year while a traffic light system was also in play.

Tesco, Stretford

By the escalators, there was a sanitising station which most people seemed to be using to clean their hands and their trolleys before making their way up to the store.

Greeted by the harmonious tones of East 17’s Brian Harvey as Stay Another Day blared out the tannoy system, I was impressed to see most people abiding by the rules.

Signs on the floor reminding people to keep space from one another were also nice to see.

Most people were wearing masks bar the occasional shopper, including one man who seemed to be walking around the entire store with his sleeve over his mouth.

Tesco Stretford on Friday afternoon

There were a small number of staff members not wearing masks but, for all we know, they may be exempt from the rules.

As Brian Harvey’s serenade comes to an end, we’re informed over the tannoy about the importance of wearing face masks and following the traffic light system, while also being asked to respect colleagues and customers while shopping.

Then Atomic Kitten’s Whole Again kicks off and it feels like a very fitting transition - because, after all, we’re all looking back on when we first met the pandemic really, aren’t we.


Marks & Spencer

When we walk into the M&S at White City, we're again greeted by a hand sanitising station with people taking full advantage of the chance to clean themselves and their baskets.

Inside, we couldn't see anyone without a mask on - unless you want to count the passel of stuffed Percy Pigs on sale who were most definitely not conforming to the rules.

All in all, M&S was a good, solid effort from everyone involved - although, there could have been some better signage as we don’t recall seeing any extra efforts to remind people to wear masks.


Aldi, WhiteCity

By the entrance of the Aldi at WhiteCity, we're greeted by an A4 piece of paper blu-tacked onto a sign telling customers that face masks are mandatory. It seems like minimal effort and also appears to be the only sign I ever see informing customers of the rules.

There's a traffic light system in force here and there’s also a sanitising station again which customers line up to use it but beyond that, there is no real instruction or enforcement.

Signs at Aldi reminding customers of face mask rules

While most customers were wearing masks, we did see some people with their masks down to their chin (literally what is the point) and others with their masks below their noses.

Perhaps the most surprising was the fact that the staff at all five open tills weren't wearing masks.

While they were sitting behind large protective screens, it did appear a bit odd that not even one of them was wearing a mask - but, again, they could all be exempt or may have felt the screens were protecting them enough.


Iceland, WhiteCity

The next destination was The Food Warehouse by Iceland at White City. We're not entirely sure what separates a normal Iceland from an Iceland combined with a Food Warehouse, but it probably has something to do with the fact that the blocks of cheese range from normal to industrial size.

As we walk into the store, we see a partially-blocked sign about face masks followed by a lone mask plonked on the floor. Is it a protest? A sign of things to come? A warning? Either way, we decide to move along.

Iceland, WhiteCity

Inside, every customer we see is wearing masks as are the staff.

The store is quiet enough to get around without having to bump shoulders with others, so it’s a pretty uneventful experience really - although no tannoy messages.


Asda, Hulme

Oh boy. Deciding to go to the Asda in Hulme last and just as nearby schools finish for the day may have been our biggest downfall.

Asda bosses said they will be asking customers and staff to wear face masks unless exempt and will also be handing them out to anyone who forgets one but that didn't seem to be the case here.

The entrance to the store was chaotic - with hardly any staff present and certainly no masks on offer. We don’t recall seeing any sanitising stations, but there were some fairly big signs by the entrance reminding people of the rules.

Inside, the store was full of families and young children running around - as you may expect at 4.30pm on a Friday night - but we did see a lot of customers and staff not wearing masks.

When Rita Ora wasn’t being blared out the speaker at a nightclub level (seriously, quieten it down a bit, Rita), there were muffled and almost inaudible messages airing over the tannoy about something to do with masks.

While there were some signs in place, there could be more done for the store to reinforce the message about mask wearing.

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