Supermarkets are struggling with the duty of masking

Deen in Purmerend. Director Joost Deen: ‘I don’t want a legal battle with our employees. We are not going to enforce it, it is not in line with our philosophy. ‘Image Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

To avoid problems at the door, they don’t want to actively ask or oblige their customers to do so. Supermarkets also state that they cannot oblige their own staff or their customers to wear a mouth mask.

According to Paul Bovend’Eert, professor of constitutional law at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the government is hiding behind the shopkeepers with the urgent advice to wear a face mask. ‘That is easy going. The government does not take its responsibility by regulating and enforcing this legally, but tells branch owners: find out. Making face masks mandatory is indeed tenable under the Constitution, provided that a provision is included in the corona law. ‘ The House of Representatives is debating this week about the corona law and it is expected that it will be passed.

“We support the advice of the government,” says a spokesman for Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of Albert Heijn. “But we are not going to make it compulsory in accordance with the policy.” As long as it is not mandatory, retailers refuse to address staff and customers if they are not wearing a face mask.

The Detailresult Group, which includes Dirk van den Broek and DekaMarkt, also emphasizes that this concerns advice. “If supermarkets make mouth masks mandatory, it is expected to lead to a lot of extra discussion and possibly even aggression at the door,” said a spokesman. The employees at Dirk or Deka Markt only need to wear a mouth mask ‘if they like it’.

When asked, Jumbo refers to the so-called corona protocol of the Central Bureau for Food Trade (CBL). That protocol states that an obligation to mask employees in the store is unnecessary and undesirable. Customers are free to wear a face mask.

According to professor Evert Verhulp, professor of employment law at the University of Amsterdam, shopkeepers can instruct their employees to wear a face mask. ‘According to the right of instruction, it belongs just as much to your uniform as an apron or vest. The Working Conditions Act also obliges employers to protect their employees. Without medical objections, it is fair and reasonable to require your employees to wear a mouth mask. ‘

Joost Deen, director of supermarket company Deen, does not like that. ‘I don’t want a legal battle with our employees. We are not going to enforce it, it is not in line with our philosophy. ‘

Read further

‘People should feel safe in a supermarket’
Joost Deen (44), as director of the third generation marketing formula in the Deen family business, is in a dilemma. ‘We would like to encourage the use of face masks. But we cannot oblige our staff to wear a mouth mask, because it is not part of the company clothing. We did ask our branch managers to set a good example. ‘

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