Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that retail workers are up to 75 per cent more likely to die from Covid-19.
The revelation was made when Hancock set out the government’s plans to make face masks compulsory in shops in England from 24 July.
How are retail workers more affected by coronavirus?
Hancock said that “sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disproportionately in this crisis” and that the death rate of sales and retail assistants is “75 per cent higher among men and 60 per cent higher among women than in the general population.”
He added, “In recent weeks we have reopened retail and footfall is rising. We want to give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops.
“Both of these can be done by the use of face coverings.”
Hancock said that as stores continue to reopen, there must be steps taken to “keep our shopkeepers safe.”
He added that there is evidence that face coverings also increase people's confidence to shop.
Are face coverings mandatory in shops?
From 24 July, face masks are compulsory for shoppers in England, and those found not complying with the order could face a fine of up to £100.
Hancock said that shopkeepers would be allowed to “refuse entry” to those not wearing face coverings, and that police enforcement would be a “last resort”.
However, Minister George Eustice said that face coverings would not be compulsory for retail staff, or staff in pubs and restaurants. Eustice said that shop staff are “not covered” by this rule.
When questioned whether the rules would apply to supermarket staff, he said that they are also not covered by the rule.
He said, “It won’t be a compulsory requirement because it won’t always be right for every setting in a retail environment, particularly those working behind the tills and so on.”
In Scotland, masks have been mandatory on public transport since 22 June, and became mandatory in shops from 10 July.
The Scottish government explained, “It is strongly recommended that staff wear face coverings even when 2m physical distancing is applied.
“However, there is an exemption for staff where 2m physical distancing or Perspex screens are in place.”