Some retailers are asking customers and staff to wear face masks in stores where they are not legally required to do so.
Apple requires face coverings in all of its stores globally, no matter what the local policy is, and conducts temperature checks at the door, while Brand Collective, a privately owned group of retail brands, including Superdry, Hush Puppies and Clarks, requires masks in stores across Victoria, despite the fact that face coverings are currently only required in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.
A spokesperson for Brand Collective told Inside Retail that the company has provided masks to its entire store network across Australia and New Zealand, and staff are welcome to wear them if they choose. This is in addition to gloves and signage about social distancing in all stores.
Harvey Norman also requires face masks in all stores in Victoria, according to a report by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
However, these retailers appear to be the exceptions. Most retailers do not appear to have extended the face mask requirement beyond Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.
Barbeques Galore supplied teams in all stores with hand sanitiser, face masks and gloves early on in the pandemic, but is only enforcing masks in stores where they are legally required.
“We have obviously made sure they’ve got an additional supply of face masks as they’re mandated and we’ve also put signage in stores alongside other Covid signage asking that customers only enter if they’re wearing a face mask,” Angus McDonald, Barbeques Galore’s CEO told Inside Retail.
“If we have someone walk in without one, we’re able to offer them one, so we can help everyone comply with the iterative that’s been given by the State Government in Victoria.”
Some retailers escaped the mask mandate because they chose to close stores where face masks would have been required.
Sephora and Patagonia closed their Melbourne stores when stage 3 restrictions came into effect for a second time on July 8.
Under these restrictions, people are advised to stay at home except for four essential reasons: to buy food or necessary supplies, to receive medical care or provide caregiving, to exercise outdoors and to work or study if that cannot occur at home.
Both Sephora and Patagonia have kept their stores in other parts of the country open, albeit with additional safety measures in place.
Patagonia has limited trading hours in these stores and limits the number of customers it allows in-store at any one time. Fitting rooms also remain closed.
Apple was one of the first major retailers in Australia to close its stores due to Covid-19. On March 14, the tech giant announced it was closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27, but in many places, the closures lasted much longer.
Apple stores reopened in Australia on May 7, and face masks have been a requirement of entry ever since.