Supermarkets urged to step up COVID-19 safety measures as virus infections surge
West Midlands council leaders are calling on supermarkets and businesses that remain open during this national lockdown to step-up their COVID-19 safety measures to help combat the surge of infections
With cases continuing to rise across the region and the UK entering a new lockdown, people are now required to stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons – one of which is to shop for basic necessities.
Supermarkets and some other retailers will remain open and the leaders of Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils believe the retailers have a major role to play in keeping people safe over the coming weeks and months.
The seven leaders, who wrote to Business Secretary Alok Sharma MP in November expressing concerns at the easing of safety measures in supermarkets, have now called for urgent action to protect staff and shoppers.
Supermarket safety demands from council leaders:
- The re-introduction of one-way systems to help maintain social distancing in all retail settings.
- Improved enforcement of safety measures with COVID marshals on-site throughout opening hours.
- Strong Infection Prevention and Control and messaging in-store to maintain the 2m distance between customers.
- Strong action to combat spread amongst staff whist on site (both in public areas and in break areas) including encouraging staff to test regularly through the asymptomatic LFD community testing offer,
- Mandatory measures to ensure that symptomatic staff stay at home (with adequate financial support), get tested, self-isolate AND that their close contacts also do this.
- Clear staff training and tight compliance in store (mask wearing; reduce numbers in store, customer flow (one way aisles as much as possible), sanitising touch points and shared baskets and trolleys).
Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward said: “Supermarkets and their staff worked extremely hard during the first lockdown to introduce measures that kept shoppers and workers safe.
“Now we need a return to the measures and the vigilance we saw last year and that means hand washing and sanitising, enforcement on the rules around face coverings and better social distancing, including the reintroduction on one-way systems.
“These are very worrying times and we all have a role to play to keep people safe. Although people must once again stay at home as much as possible, many of us will still be visiting supermarkets, so it’s essential that stores are as safe as possible.”