Woolies wants customers in masks
Customers at any Woolworths Group store will be "strongly encouraged" to wear face coverings from Monday, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in NSW.
The move affects all Woolworths stores, Dan Murphys, Big W, BWS and ALH Hotels in NSW and the ACT.
Stores in Queensland hot spots will also be following the guidance, while stores in Victoria are covered under the health order mandating masks across the entire state from Sunday.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said while the masks were not mandatory in NSW, ACT or Queensland, he believed it was a good step forward in helping to eliminate the virus.
"The safety and wellbeing of our customers, teams and communities is our top priority," he said.
"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 feel it's important we lead the way in helping reduce community transmission of COVID-19."
This policy came into play last week for residents in the Fairfield and Liverpool local government areas in southwest Sydney - where multiple clusters of the virus have been identified - and face masks were provided to workers in those stores.
Mr Banducci said Woolworths Group staff had been asked to "lead by example", including the executive team, and that staff had been provided masks to wear, and would continue to be for the foreseeable future.
"Masks and face coverings are a highly visible symbol of the persistence of COVID-19," 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."
NCA NewsWire understands customers will not be approached by staff or denied entry if they choose not to wear a mask, except in Victoria, where it is mandatory.
The new policy comes as Australia recorded its deadliest day in the pandemic, and Victoria recorded more than 700 cases.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced 723 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, along with 13 new fatalities, with 10 of those connected to aged care centres.
More than 300 people are in hospitals across the state, including 34 in intensive care wards.
As a result, masks will become mandatory across all of Victoria from Sunday.
In New South Wales, community transmission is on the rise, with more than 150 local cases diagnosed over the past two weeks.
Eighteen new cases were announced on Thursday, with 16 of those locally acquired.
Originally published as Woolies wants customers in masks