UK supermarket Sainsbury's to encourage masks in stores after July 19

People shop at a Sainsbury's supermarket, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain January 12, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - Britain's second-biggest supermarket chain Sainsbury's (SBRY.L) will encourage customers to keep wearing a face mask from Monday, when new government rules state it will be a matter of personal choice.

Despite a surge in cases, the government is removing most COVID-19 restrictions from July 19 in England after a rapid vaccine rollout appeared to weaken the link between infection rates and deaths.

As part of the new rules Johnson has said people in England should use their own judgement about whether to wear masks, leading to different ministers and different public services giving different answers as to what the best approach would be.

Sainsbury's, second in Britain to market leader Tesco (TSCO.L), said in a statement on Wednesday that signs and tannoy messages in stores would encourage customers to wear a face covering, if they can.

Staff will also be encouraged to wear a mask unless they are behind a screen.

"Our colleagues' safety is vital and many of our colleagues would feel more comfortable if those who can wear face coverings continue to wear them," Chief Executive Simon Roberts said. "We've listened closely to our customers too and they are telling us the same."

Reporting by James Davey; writing by Kate Holton;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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