The outspoken former footballer was pictured wandering around Marks & Spencer in Barnes, south-west London, on Sunday without a mask – after months of lecturing others to do just that. The 59-year-old Match Of The Day was spotted by a member of the public as he looked at the supermarket’s desserts before browsing the shop, queuing at the tills and paying for his food – all without a mandatory face covering.
This is despite Mr Linekar repeatedly lecturing his 7.7million Twitters to wear a mask to fight the invisible killer disease, which has killed more than 43,500 people in the UK.
The BBC presenter told his followers wearing a face mask “had to be beneficial” “even if it only saves one life”.
Back in April, he tweeted: “How can there be any debate about whether we should be wearing a mask?
“Even if it’s only a one per cent chance of making you safer. Even if it is only a one per cent chance of stopping you giving it to someone else.
Gary Linekar was spotted shopping without a face mask
Gary Linekar was spotted browsing the desserts section
“Even if it only saves one life then it has to be beneficial.”
On July 2, he wrote: “Can’t understand why anyone would object to wearing a mask.
“Painless gesture to ensure you don’t spread the virus to others, and great for hiding bad breath.”
And on July 14, he added: “Why would anyone object to wearing a mask in a shop? Not exactly a hardship.
Gary Linekar was not wearing a face covering
“What a country of snowflakes we’ve become.”
He also tweeted: “Wearing masks, of all things, is the most obvious thing we can do to help decrease the spread of the virus, and the smallest of all the sacrifices. No brainer.”
The former England striker even took photos of himself outside the exact same M&S branch and put it on Instagram on April 8 with the caption: “I’m taking no chances.”
The 38-year-old shopper who spotted Mr Lineker without a face mask criticised the BBC presenter for flouting the rules “despising take the moral high ground”.
Gary Linekar has repeatedly urged people to wear face masks
The BBC presenter told his followers wearing a face mask “had to be beneficial” “even if it only saves one life”
They said: “It’s just hypocrisy on another level.
“He had even tweeted a photo of him wearing a mask recently in front of that same M&S store, and telling people to wear masks in supermarkets.
“If it was anyone else, I wouldn’t mind so much. But it’s frustrating for someone who tries to take the moral high ground as much as he does.
“Gary Lineker does live in Barnes, and I’ve heard he shops in that M&S quite regularly.
Gary Linekar lectured his followers to wear a mask
“Nobody was really going up to him in the store. None of the store staff approached him and asked him to put a mask on.”
Face masks became compulsory in shops, including non-essential retail and supermarkets, in the UK from July 24.
The legal responsibility falls on the customer to wear the mask, not the shop or takeaway to enforce the rule.
Gary Linekar tweeted a picture of himself queuing outside Marks & Spencers
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Shops are permitted to turn anyone who is not wearing one away.
Anyone who refuses to wear one will be subject to a £100 fine.
Mr Lineker’s agent Jon Holmes said the BBC star admitted he hadn’t worn a face mask and apologised for the “oversight”.
Mr Holmes said: “I have spoken to Gary and he admits that is right, he did not wear a mask when he went in to M&S.
“He got about halfway round the shop, and then realised, and he put it on.
“It was an oversight, to which he admits, and he apologises.
“It just goes to show that people need to stay vigilant when doing their shopping.”