LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Sadiq Khan during the #March4Women 2020 rally at Southbank Centre on March 08, 2020 in London, England. The event is to mark International Women's Day. (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images)

SADIQ KHAN has asked retailers to stock supplies of “reusable, non-medical face coverings” for Londoners heading to public spaces as lockdown restrictions are being eased.

The London mayor has been a vocal advocate of using face coverings in public places. Based on the government’s updated guidance, he had insisted that everyone should use some form of face covering while using London’s public transport.

However, according to reports, many Londoners had raised concerns over fellow-commuters not wearing face coverings.

“I would like to ask for your help with ensuring Londoners are able to access non-medical face coverings to help prevent the spread of Covid-19,” said Khan in a letter to stores on Wednesday (20).

“Although Londoners should stay at home as much as possible, I am asking those who must use public transport for essential travel to wear a non-medical face covering for the entirety of their journey.

“Furthermore, I hope that Londoners will choose to wear face coverings when out doing their shopping, helping to keep you, your staff and their fellow customers safe.”

The mayor noted that even as City Hall was “encouraging people to use homemade face coverings”, there would be a lot of people preferring to pick up ready-made ones from stores.

“I am therefore urging you to stock supplies of reusable, non-medical face coverings in all of your London stores, at a price point that makes them accessible to all Londoners,” he said.

“Coverings for the public sale should not be medical-grade PPE as we must not divert supplies of this vital protective equipment from health, care and other key workers in the frontline of the fight against Covid-19.”

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), too, has been asking the retail sector at large to ensure availability of face coverings.

“Independent retailers want to play their part in keeping customers safe and giving consumers confidence to return to the shops as and when they open,” Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre told the Evening Standard.

“As they tend to sell PPE, we want to ensure local hardware stores ramp up supply to keep the public safe, to help people avoid needing to travel to the larger, more populated, out of town DIY stores to buy masks.

“We also want to help protect the NHS supply chain by ensuring the public are sold face coverings that are not those used by the NHS and other health service key workers.”