On Monday, the cabinet issued the urgent advice to wear a mouth mask while shopping in all municipalities in the Haaglanden region. Retailers were given the option to refuse customers without a mask. But the supermarket sector, through umbrella organization CBL, has decided not to do this to avoid a discussion at the door. HEMA previously announced that the department store chain will not deny customers without a mask access to the store.
‘If shops start making mouth masks mandatory, it is expected that this will lead to a lot of extra discussion and even aggression at the door’, the CBL fears. The trade association wants to protect staff from this. The supermarkets do urge customers to respect the corona measures in the supermarket. ‘So keep your distance, come alone, do your shopping efficiently with a list and be nice to each other, even if, for example, you disagree with the choice of other customers not to wear a mouth mask.’
Supermarket employees are also not obliged to wear a face mask. ‘We advise our employees, which there are 300,000 in the Netherlands, to wear a mouth mask. We don’t make it compulsory, ‘says Marc Jansen, director of CBL. ‘Trials have been carried out with mouth masks in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and we have heard that it is very stressful for stock fillers. They have to work hard and if you wear a mouth mask all the time, it is very stressful. ‘
In addition to the advice to wear a mouth mask in shops, the cabinet also called for two ‘elderly hours’ to be set per day. ‘It actually fell out of the blue that the cabinet now says that two hours a day should be reserved for the elderly and the vulnerable,’ says Jansen. ‘We are very happy to discuss this with the cabinet. We would like to know how it contributes to stopping the virus, whether there is sufficient interest in it and whether it also has undesirable effects because you have to refuse other customers who then make it busier at other times. ‘
For now an advice
Healthcare minister Hugo de Jonge does not want to comment on the content of the announcements from supermarkets and other shops that they will simply admit customers who do not wear masks. “It is still an advice,” he emphasized in a first reaction on Tuesday morning. ‘There is an advice for shoppers to wear a mouth mask. But it is still advice. We first ask the OMT for advice and we will take a decision based on that. ‘
The entrepreneurs on Frederik Hendriklaan in The Hague are also not going to make the use of mouth masks compulsory in the shop. ‘We will hand them out for free to anyone who wants to. This gives the people who want it the opportunity, but we are not going to make it compulsory ‘, explains Fabian Paagman of the eponymous bookstore.
His colleagues join him. Several stores indicate that they find it especially important to hang out with each other. ‘It would be strange if one store decides not to and another does. And it also makes it a lot easier for people when there is a clear decision in a shopping street. So my decision will depend on that too. ‘
‘I think that a face mask does help people in terms of behavior inside a store,’ says one of the early customers at Frederik Hendriklaan. ‘Outside I find it a bit more complicated. We have been to Germany and it was clear there. When you are inside you put on a face mask and when you walk outside you keep your distance. ‘
‘You loosen up’
A man wearing a face mask thinks ‘it’s okay like this’. “It’s been a bit too loose in recent weeks,” he says. “I think we desperately need this.” A woman enjoying her coffee on the shopping street agrees. ‘You loosen up because you don’t think about it anymore. But after such a press conference on Monday, you think: oh yes, it’s still there. ‘
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