ONE of the Gunnedah region's biggest businesses is the latest to encourage its staff and customers to wear face masks while shopping.
Starting this week, Coles is encouraging locals to mask up while shopping at its supermarkets and subsidiaries like Coles Express, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars and First Choice.
A Coles spokesperson said the company would supply face masks for its staff.
"As we continue to prioritise the health and safety of our customers and team members, Coles is in regular contact with government health authorities to ensure we are taking all recommended steps to reduce the risk of COVID transmission," the spokesperson said.
"The NSW Chief Health Officer has now recommended the use of face masks for NSW residents in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, including while shopping in supermarkets."
"In line with this advice, Coles is providing masks for our NSW team members and we encourage customers to wear a mask while in our NSW stores."
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."
The Coles Spokesperson echoed Dr Durrheim's sentiments saying customers should continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols.
"The Chief Health Officer has confirmed that staying home and getting tested if you are unwell, physical distancing, and regular hand-washing are still the best defence against COVID," the spokesperson said.
"Customers can also shop online with contactless Click&Collect, or contactless home delivery, which delivers to your front door.
"Coles will continue to work with state and federal government health experts to implement any further safety measures they recommend."