Calls to bring back queuing outside supermarkets amid rise in Covid cases
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant
The director of public health in Essex has called for Covid rules in supermarkets to be tightened, as many big brands such as Tesco and Sainsbury's ban those who refuse to wear face masks.
Dr Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health at Essex County Council, has raised concerns that the new variant of Covid-19 is still increasing in places such as Tendring, with fears it could rise further and impact the more vulnerable.
He urged residents to "robustly adhere" to the current lockdown measures, in order to minimise the risk of the highly-infectious new strain.
"People must maintain two-metres minimum in all premises," said Dr Gogarty.
"I feel supermarkets need to go back to outside queuing and the operation of a strict one-way system. I ask that everybody work from home unless they absolutely cannot."
He also said it would be useful to have the two-metre distancing markers back on supermarket floors and on public transport, in a live Covid Q&A with the BBC.
"These things were really effective the first time round and now we are more relaxed in those areas," he said.
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"I think these should be stepped up."
He also urged residents to keep away from others in public places such as supermarkets and wear a mask.
His calls come as a number of supermarkets make rules around wearing face coverings in stores more strict, urging customers to shop alone.
The government made wearing face masks compulsory in shops after the relaxation of the first national lockdown last year.
However, it has been down to stores about how they enforce the rule.
Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Aldi and Waitrose, have all now decided to ban customers from entering if they refuse to wear a mask - unless they are medically exempt.
Morrisons was the first to make the move, with chief executive David Potts saying: "Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won't be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt.
"Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind."
Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Sainsbury's and Waitrose have joined Morrisons in saying they will enforce these rules themselves.
A spokesman for Tesco, added: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused on ensuring everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment.
"To protect our customers and colleagues, we won’t let anyone into our stores who is not wearing a face covering, unless they are exempt in line with government guidance. We are also asking our customers to shop alone, unless they’re a carer or with children.
“Our colleagues are working hard in difficult circumstances to make sure everyone can get what they need, and we’d ask everyone to please be kind, patient and respectful as we all work to keep each other safe.”
Suffolk's director of public health Stuart Keeble said: “Simply put, we must stay at home. If we all take responsibility and follow the national guidance, we will see the number of cases reduce.
“Suffolk needs you to do everything you can, to stop the virus from spreading. Our local health services are under huge pressure, positive case rates across Suffolk remain very high and that must not continue.
“You may leave home for essential reasons, but even then you need to minimise contact with others and take extreme care. You only need to drop your guard one to catch the virus and unknowingly spread it to others.”