WATCH | Somizi questions why retail staff have no gloves or masks amid Covid-19 outbreak

However, retailers have responded, saying they are following the World Health Organisation's guidelines...

30 March 2020 - 14:30
By Chrizelda Kekana
Somizi Mhlongo is worried about the wellbeing of tellers at grocery stores.
Image: Instagram/Somizi Somizi Mhlongo is worried about the wellbeing of tellers at grocery stores.

TV and radio star Somizi Mhlongo questioned retailers about the lack of masks and gloves on staff members, expressing concern for their health amid the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Somizi shared his concerns in a video posted on Instagram after he popped out for groceries to Pick n Pay and Woolworths at the weekend. By Monday afternoon the video had amassed more than 2 million views, with fans flooding the comments section with similar questions. 

“I'm leaving Pick n Pay right now and I just asked the management why the staff isn't wearing masks and gloves. They say they were told that if they want masks they must buy for themselves.” 

Somizi explained that he was worried that the tellers interacted closely with customers, which put them in danger of having saliva or remnants of a cough or a sneeze land on them. 

“It's not only for me but for them as well, for their safety. They are exposed more than anybody else. This is bulls**t.” 

Watch the video below.

Pick n Pay spokesperson Janine Caradonna told TshisaLIVE that the retailer was doing everything in its power to protect its staff and fight the spread of coronavirus.

“Pick n Pay is taking all necessary action to fight the spread of coronavirus. We are requiring our staff to uphold stringent personal hygiene, including frequent and proper handwashing. We are also making hand sanitisers readily available for staff and customers in our stores.

“Some customers have asked us why our staff are not wearing face masks and gloves. The World Health Organisation (WHO) clearly advises that a healthy person should only wear a face mask if they are taking care of someone suspected of having coronavirus, or if they are coughing themselves,” said Caradonna.

Echoing Pick n Pay's sentiments, Woolworth's spokesperson Kirsten Hewett said it had also opted to follow WHO's guidelines and had provided hand sanitisers and encouraged frequent hand washing.   

“The safety and wellbeing of our staff and customers remains a top priority for us. In line with the World Health Organisation (WHO), we have been advised against the use of face masks as they do not prove to be effective in preventing infection for the wearer. Also, gloves are not effective because research has shown that microbial standards are better achieved when people wash their hands correctly, and people will more regularly wash their hands when not wearing gloves. Gloves have further been shown to lead to sweating which again incubates microbes,” she said.