I visited Sainsbury’s, Asda and Aldi on the first weekend facemasks were mandatory – it wasn’t what I expected

I visited Sainsbury's, Asda and Aldi on the first weekend facemasks were mandatory - it wasn't what I expected

Since Friday (July 24) shoppers have had to follow new government guidelines to wear a face mask in any shop at all times.

Many supermarkets have already said they would not be challenging people who didn’t have a mask, including Sainsbury’s and Aldi.

This got us thinking, so with the new rule in place what do supermarkets look like now?

I visited three supermarkets – Asda, Aldi and Sainsbury’s – and rated them on how effectively their staff were wearing masks, how well customers covered their faces and how well people were social distancing.

Here’s what I found…


ASDA’s staff were more relaxed about the new face mask rule

When I arrived at Asda, I wasn’t sure what to expect from anyone.

After seeing the statistic that 21 per cent of people would never wear a mask in a shop, I feared that the new rule would be completely ignored, but this was not the case.

The security man on the door seemed to be checking that customers wore their masks, which instilled some feeling of reassurance.

I entered and saw people doing their best to adhere to directional floor markings, however it’s easily dismissed if you’ve forgotten an item behind you or in the next aisle over.

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Everyone that I saw was wearing a mask, all but three members of staff who were working to fill the shelves with new products – they also did not appear to have a mask around their ears, neck or wrist.

This was conflicting – for as long as supermarkets have been operating throughout lockdown, no-one has been forced to wear a mask until now and so I was unsure as to question why they were not wearing a mask or dismiss it as familiar behaviour.

Customers and staff kept their distance well and the experience was overall an enjoyable one, I did not feel particularly unsafe or anxious.

Customers wearing masks: 5/5

Staff wearing masks: 3/5

Overall social distancing: 5/5


Aldi was surprisingy well managed

On the first day of the new mask rule being implemented, I visited Maidstone’s Aldi store.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the supermarket was well-organised and only letting in a certain number of customers at any one time.

Making my way around the shop floor I found that the usually-busy budget brand was dealing with the new rule effectively as shoppers were mostly following the one-way flow system from aisle to aisle.

All staff were either behind a physical barrier at the tills or making sure to keep their distance while restocking shelves and wearing a mask at the same time.

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There also seemed to be less staff than Asda or Sainsbury’s on duty which might have caused some problems with keeping the store well-staffed, however the lack of shop assistants made the experience less fragmented and easy-going with less people to bump into.

Customers wearing masks: 4/5

Staff wearing masks: 5/5

Overall social distancing: 3/5


Sainsbury’s social distancing wasn’t great

Sainsbury’s may be one of the pricier supermarkets out there for shoppers, however, it attracts custom due to its wide range of ethically sourced products.

Therefore many customers still flock here for their weekly shop.

Upon entering I could see that even on a quiet Sunday, the store was still bustling with people.

Before I reached the front doors I could see two women leaving and immediately reaching for their masks in hopes of gasping for some fresh, cold air – their commitment was rewarded with the cool, gentle breeze outside.

Inside, I was impressed to find the majority of customers wearing masks or some form of facial covering, and those who were not, I could count on one hand.

Staff were religiously following the new rule as they were either hidden behind transparent perspex or an elasticated mask – I sympathised with these hard workers as this must have been highly uncomfortable during their likely eight hours on the shop floor.

Despite all of the precautions, including self-scan tills being separated with partitions and a designated entrance and exit door, social distancing was almost non-existent.

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There were no visible direction markings apart from to measure a two-metre distance from the next shopper and so everybody was operating in a free-for-all, mind-your-back sort of way, which did make me feel uneasy.

Customers wearing masks: 4/5

Staff wearing masks: 5/5

Overall social distancing: 2/5


It’s safe to say that I was very surprised at how well people followed the new law.

The vast majority of shoppers took it upon themselves to follow the rules and very few were not particpating.

It was not what I expected at all as I honestly thought everyone would ignore the guidelines.

How wrong I was.

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

Organizer. Zombie aficionado. Wannabe reader. Passionate writer. Twitter lover. Music scholar. Web expert.

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