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Bunnings and Woolworths to ‘highly encourage’ face masks in Canberra stores

Despite a lack of community transmission in the ACT, customers shopping at Canberra Bunnings and Woolworths supermarkets will be “strongly encouraged” to wear face masks from Monday 3 August.

Bunnings Chief Operating Officer Deb Poole said that from Monday, they will require their team working in NSW, the ACT and in Queensland hotspots, to wear face masks.

“From Monday we will also strongly recommend that all customers wear a face mask or face covering when they visit a Bunnings store or Trade Centre across NSW, the ACT and parts of Queensland where there is COVID-19 spread,” she said.

“Bunnings customers will be provided with an option to purchase a mask as they enter our stores should they wish to do so.

“While we’re not mandating customer use of face masks in these locations, we greatly appreciate customers getting on board to help protect everyone,” she said.

Bunnings will continue to supply facemasks for their staff, but they will also have the option to use their own fabric masks if they prefer.

Similarly, the proactive announcement from Woolworths comes due to “increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in NSW”, and extends to “customers, teams and visitors across all Woolworths Group stores and sites in NSW”.

Group stores include Woolworths Supermarkets, Woolworths Metro Food Stores, BIG W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS and ALH Hotels in the ACT and NSW.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said they feel it’s important to lead the way in helping reduce community transmission of COVID-19.

“Even though wearing a face covering is not mandatory in NSW, ACT or Queensland, as the largest private sector employer with stores in almost every community … we’re asking our teams to lead by example,” he said.

“By encouraging and role modelling their use, it will further support the steps we need to collectively take to stop the spread of the virus and keep our team and customers safe.”

Mr Banducci said face coverings are being provided to all Woolworths Group team members to wear and will continue to be “for the foreseeable future”.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith today said due to a lack of community transmission in the ACT the efficacy of masks is “likely to be pretty limited”.

“In relation to Woolworths, obviously it’s a multi-jurisdictional business and they’ll make decisions, they’ve made a decision in the ACT that also applies in NSW,” she said.

“Masks generally aren’t required in the ACT for people going out and about in their normal business.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said it would be a sensible additional precaution for people who travel to the ACT from Sydney to wear a mask if they have one.

“People who are coming to the ACT from Sydney … Again, we’re not seeing community transmission even in the Greater Sydney region at this point in time.

“The risk is low for those people, but we have identified that risk as a precautionary response … it’s not necessarily a recommendation at this point in time.”

A Coles spokesperson told Canberra Weekly they will not be making a similar request of their customers across the ACT and NSW.

“Health authorities continue to advise that physical distancing and regular hand-washing are still the best defence against COVID,” they said.

“While they are not currently mandatory in NSW or QLD, masks are also available in those states for team members who wish to use them.”

In Queensland, customers and teams across Woolworths Group stores and sites within hot spot areas will also be strongly encouraged to wear face coverings from tomorrow, 1 August.

This is in addition to the mandatory requirements for face coverings in all of Victoria, currently in place across Melbourne and Mitchell shires, with the entire state now included from Sunday 2 August.

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