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Union demands mandatory masks for bank customers and staff

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Written by: Emma Lunn
08/07/2021
Staff working in bank branches face danger and unnecessary risk if the government goes ahead with scrapping face covering rules, according to union Unite.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced earlier this week almost all Covid regulations would be scrapped from 19 July, despite warnings that Covid infections are soaring.

From 19 July, the government is adopting a policy of ‘personal responsibility’ with no obligation to wear face masks in indoor or public spaces.

But Unite, which represents staff working in bank branches across the UK and Ireland, is calling on mandatory face masks to be maintained in order to keep staff safe. Banking staff are classified as key workers and have worked in branches throughout the pandemic.

Dominic Hook, Unite national officer, said: “Face coverings are essential in keeping bank branch staff safe as the health pandemic continues. Staff in banks have worked every day through the Covid-19 crisis to provide face to face service to customers and meet their banking needs. They are the frontline heroes of the financial services sector and they deserve protection from the virus.

“It is unacceptable for this government to remove the requirement to wear facial coverings within banks at a time of rising infection rates and therefore leaving staff who deal with hundreds of customers each day totally exposed to harm.”

Caren Evans, Unite national officer said: “Many bank branches are in old poorly ventilated buildings and will be disgraceful to force staff to face the public with no personal protection. We know face coverings work to prevent the spread of infection, why doesn’t this government give our frontline banking heroes the chance to stay safe while at work?

“The removal of legal obligations for face coverings could result in bank branch staff being in close contact in an enclosed space with customers who may inadvertently put them and the whole branch at risk.”

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