Morrisons introduces major change for shoppers with new free product in stores

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Supermarkets have been making plenty of changes over the past few months in response to the coronavirus pandemic. All of the main chains have been introducing strict social distancing measures, protective screens at counters and even priority shopping times for some customers. But with face masks now mandatory in all stores according to the new government guidelines, Morrisons has made a change that could help with policing the rule. 

Face masks have been hotly debated throughout the lockdown, but they are now mandatory for those over the age of 11 in indoor settings including shops and supermarkets, as the latest research suggests that they help to protect the spread of the disease. 

But while police are able to step in and ensure Britons follow the law, it can be difficult for shop workers to monitor customers and enforce the rules – especially as some people are exempt. 

The government’s guidance states that there are some people who do not have to wear a mask, such as those who are unable to “put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability”. 

However, Morrisons is taking part in a special scheme to help those who may need extra consideration when they shop. 

READ MORE: Tesco, Asda & Sainsbury’s: The social distancing rules still in place

The store has announced that it is introducing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard scheme for customers. 

Posting the update on Twitter, Morrisons stated: “This week we’re introducing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard Scheme into stores. 

“The initiative acts as a discreet sign that somebody has a hidden disability. 

“If you have a hidden disability and want a lanyard, please collect one free from the customer service desk.”

The recognisable green and yellow sunflower lanyards were launched in 2016 and are now used globally at airports, shops, hospitals and leisure facilities. 

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The lanyards are used by those with a hidden disability, such as learning disabilities and autism, asthma, COPD, or chronic illnesses. 

They can be bought online from the official website for 55p, or are available free from participating stores – which now includes Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and Tesco. 

Shoppers can ask for one at the customer services desks in stores that support the scheme. 

The creators of the scheme do not ask for proof of a medical condition in return for the lanyards. 

While this is part of the scheme as many hidden disabilities remain undiagnosed, it puts it at risk of being taken advantage of in light of the pandemic. 

Some shoppers have reported seeing non-disabled customers exploiting the scheme in order to get away with not wearing a mask in public. 

One concerned customer replied to Morrisons announcement on Twitter: “Can you also ensure that people who do not qualify do not abuse it? 

“I’ve heard on autism forums that shops have run out of the lanyards because people are lying to obtain the lanyards just so they can get priority queueing at airports etc.”


However, some shoppers who are entitled to wear them have also faced problems when shopping without a mask, despite the accessory being a clear indication that they are exempt. 

Paul White, CEO of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, discussed the issue with face coverings with Matthew Gudgin on The BBC Radio Norfolk breakfast show.

The presenter reported that some shoppers had faced aggression and questions from other customers when not wearing a face mask despite displaying their sunflower lanyard. 

Mr White said that the government guidelines are clear that you don’t have to wear a face covering if you are not able to.

On its website, the scheme stated that exemptions include: 

  • Having a health condition where a face covering would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety

  • Not being able to apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently

  • Needing to communicate with someone else who relies on lip reading

The company added: “When you carry a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower face covering exempt card, you are indicating that you have a hidden disability and have a good reason not to wear a face covering.”

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