Worker fear at the forefront of face masks

Woman removes face mask

Woman removes face mask

The legal requirement to wear a face mask in the United Kingdom to stop the Covid epidemic has been lifted.

The government said it “expects and recommends” that people continue to cover their faces in closed spaces.

But if a company wants its customers and passengers to use masks, it’s up to the company to obey people.

Or, more specifically, it is their employees who have to ask the general public to wear a facial cover.

Some companies, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have stated that they “encourage” shoppers to wear face covers. Uber requires you to wear a mask.

Waterstones also said it would ask people to wear masks at bookstores. But, Mixed response received by the retailer It is a very controversial issue for the announcement.

So the BBC asked the cross-section of British workers how they feel about masks and whether they feel safe now that they are no longer required from Monday.

Bus driver

“This is another nail in the casket,” said Taj, who has been driving a bus in Yorkshire for nearly 35 years.

He said the face cover was the “last safety net” for him and his fellow bus drivers, but now it’s lifted and feels “vulnerable.”

The pandemic was dangerous for bus drivers. Recent reports found Forty-two staff members working on Transport for London buses died after being infected with the virus.

Bus masked passengers

Bus masked passengers

Taj, who doesn’t want to use his name, says the problem for drivers is that they are in the “trapped corner” of the “trapped bus” and “everyone has to overtake us.” say.

“Whether they have a pass or are paying, they have to touch the machine in some way, so they stand near us for 5, 10, 15 seconds. No masks on. If they breathe and exhale in that small space we are in.

“We can wear masks and keep the windows open, but these are still really, really worrying times for us.”

Taj said employers have been very supportive of workers, but the company and he can’t do much.

“From the beginning we said that it would put us in such a difficult position that we wouldn’t be able to crack down on it. People could actually be violent.”

He wants the government to mandate masks for traveling by public transport.

“We are a country that does not like to be imprisoned and imprisoned in any form, form or form,” he says. “That’s why we think we won’t be able to get people to wear bus masks as soon as the regulations are lifted on Monday, so we’re asking the government to make it mandatory.”

His message to the passengers? “We just ask people to keep in mind that we are humans,” he said. “What we want is to respect our health, our safety, and the health and safety of our loved ones.”

sales clerk

Catherine, who works at a large supermarket in Chesterfield, believes it is a mistake to remove the legal requirement to wear a mask and relax the rules of social distance.

“In the last few weeks, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people testing positive self-quarantine in our store alone,” she said. “That kind of data is important enough to justify sticking to measuring social distance.”

Supermarket masked person

Supermarket masked person

But even with the rules, she said it would be difficult to get a mask on in the store.Some customers even spit on her colleague

“We’ve seen people physically threatened and verbally abused just to remind customers to wear masks,” Catherine said.

“People were really annoying. I wouldn’t tolerate it in a normal environment. Why should we be because we are employees?”

She believes it Increasing number of Covid cases in the UK, The rules should be strict so as not to be relaxed.

“We played football and people traveled more. It’s common sense that there are more positive cases and isolation. The common sense factor that relaxes all restrictions to make it bigger is Where is it?

“It’s not just a personal view,” she said. “You have to think about the number of people in the store. It’s about everyone, not just yourself.”

Bar worker

Ferdinand Lions, a full-time bar worker in a London pub, is “a little worried” about the relaxation of the Covid rules in the UK on Monday.

“Obviously if we don’t feel comfortable [customers] I can’t say “I don’t want to be there” because I don’t wear a mask, which jeopardizes my position at work. That’s the scariest thing. “

Birman pouring beer

Birman pouring beer

He said it was “already quite difficult for us” to get people to follow the rules when the pub was allowed to open during the pandemic.

According to Ferdinand, most customers had no problems wearing masks and had no problems with social distance rules.

And anyway: “In the pub, we are in a slightly more privileged position and if they don’t follow the rules, we can deny service,” he said. “So obviously people want to stay there, so it’s a little easier.”

Ferdinand wants the option that the government can reintroduce the mask if the case number justifies it.

But he believes that government ambivalence “is in a position where we don’t know what the restrictions will be and the rules that surround them, whether we have to or don’t.” .. [wear masks].. I think that’s the biggest problem, so it’s hard to work. “

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