Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

What if a shop says you need to wear a face mask? Solicitor explains ‘grey area’ of policies

Can some shop owners ask that customers wear a face covering? Photo: Shutterstock
Can some shop owners ask that customers wear a face covering? Photo: Shutterstock

The legal requirement to wear face masks in Scotland has now been lifted, but is there a chance you may still be told to put one on in a shop?

The Scottish Government relaxed the rules on wearing a mandatory face covering in public on Monday.

While there is no legal requirement to wear a face mask, the Scottish Government is still advising the public to cover up.

Can a shop tell you to wear a face mask?

Some business owners may still choose to ask that customers continue to wear face coverings while in their establishments.

Shop owners, much like other businesses, have the right to put a policy in place asking customers to wear a mask for their own premises.

It may be that a member of the workforce is vulnerable and the owner or manager wants to be on the safe side.

But what if the customer says they do not want to put on a mask?

David Scott, partner for the commercial property team at Ledingham Chalmers in Aberdeen, explained a shop has the “right to refuse service to anyone” and business owners have a responsibility to look after the health and safety of their staff.

Face masks are still recommended in public places, though not everyone is wearing them (Photo: Maureen McLean/Shutterstock)

He said: “There might be some circumstances where a shop wants to impose their own policy on the wearing of facemasks, and shop owners can do that.

“A shop is able to refuse service from anyone, it’s not a public duty to keep a shop open, a shop can close and a shop can refuse service to people.”

This means that if a shop owner imposed a policy that customers are required to wear a face mask on the premises they have the right to refuse service to anyone who refuses to wear a mask and can ask them to leave.

Similarly, hospitality venues have the right to ask guests to wear a face covering when visiting the premises.

‘Grey area’ on fask mask policies

However, he explained that shop owners must be careful not to discriminate against anyone who may not wear a face covering for medical reasons.

He explained: “So that’s where you get a little bit of a grey area as to whether you can or can’t enforce these policies.

“If a person states they have a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, then they are entitled to not wear a mask but are entitled to the same service that you would otherwise get.”

Some shops are continuing to ask customers to wear face masks.

He suggested enhanced PPE could be used by staff to attend to someone who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, or other adjustments could be made such as social distancing.

However, Mr Scott does not believe there will be many shops insisting on customers wearing a face mask as this might limit the footfall.

He added: “Of course, there might be circumstances where that is not the case either if you have a particularly vulnerable workforce or a vulnerable shop owner who might want to be on the safe side.”

Explainer: What happens if you don’t want to wear a mask but a venue asks you to?

Already a subscriber? Sign in