FROM Monday shoppers at Tamworth's Woolworths outlets will be encouraged to wear a face mask.
The move is to help stop the spread of COVID-19 after Victoria made face masks compulsory statewide.
Woolworths Group chief executive officer Brad Banducci said while the company was encouraging its staff, visitors and customers to wear face masks in store, they were not compulsory.
"The safety and wellbeing of our customers, teams and communities is our top priority," Mr Banducci 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.
"We're asking our teams to lead by example, and this includes our group executive team."
The new policy will extend to all outlets owned by the Woolworths Group including Big W, Dan Murphy's and BWS.
Hunter New England health public health controller Dr David Durrheim said masks were a "very useful additional measure" but could not replace the tools of social distancing and washing hands.
"We need to be very careful," he said.
"Wearing a mask doesn't mean you can cuddle up close to others."
Woolworths' move comes after several local businesses such as the CH Boutique Hotel, implemented their own safety measures to help ensure the safety of their staff.
CH Boutique Hotel owner and Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer said every business had the right to implement it's own safety policies.
"We are very lucky here in Tamworth that there are no active cases and no community transmission, but we can't afford to get complacent," Mr Segboer said.
"There are quite a few guidelines already in place for businesses, but at the end of the day, ensuring everyone is healthy is our top priority and that's why we implemented the temperature checks."
The union which represents retail and supermarket workers has welcomed Woolworths' decision, saying the health and safety of workers should be a top priority.
SDA NSW secretary Bernie Smith said "enforcement of the recommendation is a matter for Woolworths, not for its employees".
"The recommendation follows calls from the SDA for wearing of masks to protect the health and safety of retail workers, shoppers and the general community," Mr Smith said.
"The bottom line is that shoppers in NSW should be wearing masks before stepping into stores.
"And remember that the frontline workers that you see when you walk into a shop are just out there trying to do the best job they can."
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