Sadiq Khan urges retailers to stock face coverings for commuters

20 May 2020, 06:06

The Mayor has appealed to retailers to stock face coverings
The Mayor has appealed to retailers to stock face coverings. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

London's mayor Sadiq Khan is urging retailers to stock face coverings for commuters who will be using the capital's public transport network.

The Mayor is appealing to supermarkets and shops to increase stocks of non-medical face coverings to help Londoners prevent the spread of coronavirus as lockdown restrictions start to be eased.

Mr Khan said he wants everyone who uses London's transport network to wear face coverings for the whole of their journey. This follows Government advice which encourages people to wear face coverings in enclosed places where it is difficult to maintain social distancing,

In the letter, sent on Wednesday, he added: "I would like to ask for your help with ensuring Londoners are able to access non-medical face coverings to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Read more: Trump claims US topping world virus cases is 'badge of honour'

TfL is encouraging the use of face coverings for passengers
TfL is encouraging the use of face coverings for passengers. Picture: PA

"Although Londoners should stay at home as much as possible, I am asking those who must use public transport for essential travel to wear a non-medical face covering for the entirety of their journey.

"Furthermore, I hope that Londoners will choose to wear face coverings when out doing their shopping, helping to keep you, your staff and their fellow customers safe."

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

The Mayor said while some people may wish to buy ready-made face coverings City Hall was encouraging people to use homemade ones where possible.

But he stressed that the coverings should not be medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE) to make sure supplies are not diverted from frontline NHS and care staff.

He added: "I am therefore urging you to stock supplies of reusable, non-medical face coverings in all of your London stores, at a price point that makes them accessible to all Londoners.

"Coverings for the public sale should not be medical-grade PPE as we must not divert supplies of this vital protective equipment from health, care and other key workers in the frontline of the fight against Covid-19."

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is also urging its members and the wider retail sector to stock up on re-usable face coverings to keep the public safe during the transition out of lockdown.

Working alongside Mr Khan, Bira is urging shops such as hardware stores to stock up to make sure there are enough to meet demand.

Its CEO Andrew Goodacre said: "Independent retailers want to play their part in keeping customers safe and giving consumers confidence to return to the shops as and when they open.

"As they tend to sell PPE, we want to ensure local hardware stores ramp up supply to keep the public safe, to help people avoid needing to travel to the larger, more populated, out of town DIY stores to buy masks.

"We also want to help protect the NHS supply chain by ensuring the public are sold face coverings that are not those used by the NHS and other health service key workers."