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Shopworkers face abuse for refusing to wear face masks

RETAIL WORKERS are facing new levels of abuse for telling shoppers they should be wearing face masks or observing social distancing in stores.

Their union revealed today that telling customers to observe regulations is now the biggest single trigger for abuse in the sector — more than challenging shoplifters or underage people trying to buy alcohol or tobacco.

Usdaw carried out a survey of more than 2,000 shop workers and found that incidents of abuse, assaults and threats have more than doubled during the pandemic.

General secretary Paddy Lillis said: “At a time when we should all be working together to get through this crisis, it is a disgrace that staff working to keep food on the shelves and the shop safe for customers are being abused.”

The union’s petition calling for legislation to increase protection for shop workers has gathered more than 60,000 signatures so far.

Mr Lillis said: “I urge the government to listen to the voices of shop workers and legislate for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. 

"If they want to turn their words of sympathy into action, they have the opportunity to support the Bill proposed by Alex Norris MP and help it onto the statute book.

“We need a simple standalone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary — and most importantly criminals.

"Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

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