From the United States to the United Kingdom, UNI Commerce affiliates are calling for mandatory mask wearing in retail stores to protect workers and customers from the coronavirus.

Wearing a mask and maintaining social distance in stores are important, necessary steps to keep workers and customers safe. However, too many customers still argue that they do not have to wear a mask because, in some jurisdictions, it is not legally obligatory.

Nearly every day, a new video of a customer refusing to adhere to a store’s mask policy goes viral on social media, and often these clips reflect a growing trend of increasing verbal and physical abuse of workers for simply asking shoppers to follow the rules.

“Wearing a mask is a simple, but effective, way to limit the spread of Covid-19, and urgent government action requiring face coverings in shops is needed keep workers safe,” said UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman. “Retail workers play a key role in providing people with their daily needs, such as food and medicine, during the global health crisis. They deserve security at work—not abuse and threats.”

In a full-page advertisement in the New York Times on Sunday, July 12, U.S. UNI affiliate UFCW joined a coalition of health experts to demand immediate nationwide, action to require mandatory masks in  public.

“As COVID-19 spikes across the country continue to put America’s frontline workers at risk, it is time for governors, members of Congress, and the Trump Administration to step up and make public mask mandates the law in all 50 states,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement.

In the United Kingdom, USDAW is making a similar request.

“It is right to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in shops, but there must now be clear and detailed guidance from the Government” said Paddy Lillis – USDAW General Secretary: “We urge them to develop and agree that with USDAW and retail employers, as we successfully did on joint safety guidance for the reopening of high street shops with the British Retail Consortium. USDAW expects the guidance to make it clear that shop workers will not be enforcing the wearing of face coverings.”

UNI Commerce guidelines for supermarket workers is available here:

UNI Commerce guidelines for fast fashion workers is available here:


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