Goodbye face-masks?

A report by, Steven Pike, Managing Director, HGEM

Now that legal requirements for mask-wearing have been removed, many operators are scratching heads, wondering what the most reasonable way to proceed might be.

There needs to be a balance between enjoying new freedoms, whilst still protecting staff and guests, and understanding what the new customer needs and expectations are in order for everyone to feel safe.

To help operators navigate Covid restrictions post July 19th, we asked our mystery guest consumer panel how they feel about mask-wearing going forward: what are the situations where masks should still be worn, and what would encourage them to visit a venue. The results may surprise you!

Is it the right time to stop compulsory mask-wearing?

Consumers seem to think not as over 70% think it’s too early to lose the face mask. Women are slightly more cautious than men, where that figure reaches 72%, whereas only 63% of men consider it too early to stop wearing face masks.
No particular trend emerges from an age perspective, however the most cautious age group is 56-65, as 83% believe it’s too early.

The least cautious age group are millennials (26-35), where that figure is only 62%. Surprisingly, 76% of young consumers (18-25) however, would prefer mask-wearing to continue.

In what instances should mask wearing still be compulsory?

The vast majority of consumers are adamant that mask-wearing should continue in transport, such as trains (94%) and airplanes (91%). Many also believe it should continue in supermarkets (80%).
A large percentage of customers believe that theatres and cinemas should still enforce facemasks (65%), however consumers are divided whether they should be worn in pubs, restaurants, and cafes (50%).
Only 41% believe mask-wearing should continue in hotels.

Men overall are far laxer with mask-wearing than women, and the percentages are lower in every category across the board. In terms of age, there is a broad consensus, with little deviation from the average, that masks should be worn in supermarkets, trains and airplanes, however, when it comes to hospitality, theatre and cinema settings, millennials want restrictions far less than older age groups and, surprisingly, also Gen-Z (18-25) consumers.

Staff / Team members and face masks

The results from our survey indicate that consumers strongly wish mask-wearing to continue amongst front-of-house teams. 78% of all consumers want it to continue, and in fact 58% of consumers said that it would discourage them visiting a venue where staff weren’t wearing face masks.

36% of consumers wouldn’t be swayed either way whether staff members were wearing face masks or not, and interestingly, a small percentage (6%) would be more likely to visit a venue if staff weren’t wearing face masks!
Unsurprisingly, a larger percentage of women (80%) would like to see mask-wearing continued amongst front-of-house teams than the corresponding percentage in men (73%), and women would be less likely to visit a venue if staff members weren’t wearing masks (61%) over men (51%).

A trend emerges in age groups as well, the desire for staff to wear face masks increases linearly with age, from 71% in Gen-Z respondents to 90% within the 56-65 age group. Interestingly, 66+ were an exception to the trend as only 82% would expect mask wearing to continue amongst staff.

Covid Safety Tracker

Confidence amongst consumers taken a big dip and has declined for the first time since Christmas 2020.
We have been keeping track how safe our panel of consumers feel at the idea of going out into hospitality venues and our most recent survey results reveal that the average figure is now 7.19 out of 10. That number was 7.88 in June, 7.55 in March, 7.51 over Christmas last year, and 7.07 in October 2020.

Customers over 56 in particular are feeling far less confident than in the previous months, as the average score is only 6.5 out of 10.

Statistics Corner

For those of you who care more about facts and less about opinions; here’s pure statistics for you.

Gen-Z (18-25)

76% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 81% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 62% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 50% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 88% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 88% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 50% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 71% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 47% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 47% wouldn’t be bothered either way and 6% would be more likely to visit if staff members were allowed to be mask-less
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10 point scale: 7.35

Millennials (26-35)

61% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 81% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 35% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 34% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 95% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 89% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 42% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 72% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 49% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 43% wouldn’t be bothered either way and 8% would be more likely to visit if staff members were allowed to be mask-less
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10 point scale: 7.31

36-45

72% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 79% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 53% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 45% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 90% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 92% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 73% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 78% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 54% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 39% wouldn’t be bothered either way and 7% would be more likely to visit if staff members were allowed to be mask-less
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10 point scale: 7.35

46-55

65% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 78% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 40% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 33% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 95% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 93% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 65% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 78% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 55% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 40% wouldn’t be bothered either way and 5% would be more likely to visit if staff members were allowed to be mask-less
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10 point scale: 7.5

56-65

83% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 83% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 68% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 53% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 98% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 93% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 83% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 90% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 79% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 21% wouldn’t be bothered either way
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10 point scale: 6.5

66+

78% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 81% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 71% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 52% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 100% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 100% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 86% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 83% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 78% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 13% wouldn’t be bothered either way and 9% would be more likely to visit if staff members were allowed to be mask-less
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10-point scale: 6.6

Women

72% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 83% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 51% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 44% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 96% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 94% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 67% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 80% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 61% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 33% wouldn’t be bothered either way and 6% would be more likely to visit if staff members were allowed to be mask-less
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10-point scale: 7

Men

64% feel it’s not the right time to loosen mask-wearing requirements
Supermarkets: 72% believe mask wearing should continue
Bars/Pubs/Restaurants/Cafes: 49% believe mask wearing should continue
Hotels: 37% believe mask wearing should continue
Trains: 88% believe mask wearing should continue
Airplanes: 85% believe mask wearing should continue
Theatres & Cinemas: 57% believe mask wearing should continue
Staff: 73% believe team members should continue to wear masks; 51% would visit less if staff members weren’t wearing masks; 43% wouldn’t be bothered either way and 6% would be more likely to visit if staff members were allowed to be mask-less
Average sentiment for Covid safety in hospitality on a 10-point scale: 7.6

Steven Pike, Managing Director, HGEM