Council leaders are carrying out spot checks on supermarkets across the city to ensure they are fully compliant with coronavirus safety guidance.
The measure comes after Stoke-on-Trent City Council received a number of complaints over the past week about stores being overcrowded and groups of people shopping together. The authority was even contacted by a member of the public concerned that people were removing face coverings and eating sausage rolls together in one store, in breach of the coronavirus guidance.
Now council leader Abi Brown and director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, are carrying out checks on stores, and have already visited big chain supermarkets in Stoke, Hanley and Weston Coyney.
Councillor Brown said: “Supermarkets have been in the privileged position of being able to remain open during the lockdown and have been relied on by residents across the city.
“But we cannot tolerate stores not following the guidance or people flouting the rules when they visit. Supermarkets have a vital role to play in our city’s response to the coronavirus. We all need them to be at the top of their game.
“Our Covid stewards and public protection teams work very closely with stores and are able to offer advice, and respond to complaints. Paul and I are carrying out spot checks too, because it is really important that all of the guidance is followed. I’m pleased to say that on our visits so far, the measures in place in stores have been good, and compliance has been high. We will continue to make unannounced visits during the rest of the week.”
Over the past seven days, a total of 21 complaints have been made to the council’s public protection team about supermarkets, including chains such as Asda, the Co-op, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and a number of Tesco stores, with concerns focusing on how busy stores are and a lack of social distancing. All supermarkets carry out coronavirus risk assessments, including reducing their capacities in line with the size of their stores. This information is shared with the council’s public protection teams.
Dr Edmondson-Jones said: “I wrote to all supermarkets in the city a couple of weeks ago, reminding them of their responsibilities and of the significance of putting every Covid-secure measure in place possible to protect customers and their staff.
“We have started our visits with Morrisons in Festival Park, Sainsbury’s in Stoke and the Co-op in Weston Coyney, and have been really pleased with what we have seen. There has been clear signage in place, plenty of hand sanitiser stations, Sainsbury’s has added extra floor spacing markings and sanitiser points at the end of aisles, and all staff are wearing face coverings. I want to see supermarkets continue to commit to testing their staff regularly. It is also really important that we all follow the guidance when visiting stores. For example, four adults were shopping together in Morrisons, this is clearly against the rules; we must shop individually in line with the guidance that is clearly on display in stores.”
Public protection teams will continue to follow-up any complaints, and residents can contact them via email@example.com.
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