Targeted visits to local supermarkets planned to make essential shopping visits safe for local residents

Targeted visits to local supermarkets will be made by BCP Council and Dorset Police to ensure people are kept safe whilst visiting during lockdown. Transmission during the pandemic has been primarily through households, but the virus can spread easily in public spaces such as supermarkets if people don’t follow the rules and the right measures aren’t put in place.

Since the beginning of January, BCP Council Environmental Health and Trading Standards teams have received 69 complaints concerning compliance with the COVID-19 legislation, the majority of which relate to supermarkets and other retail businesses. The teams have visited the establishments, which include mixed retail premises. These visits have been very well received, with retailers keen to do all they can to keep customers and staff safe. In some cases, retailers have closed off non-essential clothing, homeware and concession areas; others are ceasing click and collect services or strengthening their approach regarding face coverings and enhancing messaging at entrances. Some retailers will also be deploying security guards or COVID marshals to manage customer numbers and keep shoppers safe.

There have also been complaints about customers not social distancing or wearing face masks. To help protect our community, the council will work with Dorset Police, Trading Standards and COVID marshals to conduct joint visits to all supermarkets across the BCP Council area to deal with the complaints received and help ensure the premises are safe to visit. This involves engagement from the police and COVID marshals with store management and the public whilst Environmental Health officers and Trading Standards officers are completing on site assessment of compliance with COVID regulations, such as monitoring the number of people within the stores, maintaining two metre distance rules and measures to reduce transmission such as cleaning schedules and swab tests.

Councillor May Haines, Portfolio holder for Community Safety, BCP Council said:

“It is encouraging to hear of the successful work between the council and retailers, and we are looking forward to our joint working with Dorset Police to continue our engagement to protect our community. With the worrying news on the rising case rates, it is really welcome that they are playing their part to keep everyone safe.

“We would like to remind our residents to protect the community by only leaving home if absolutely necessary and to remember 'hands – face – space' wash your hands, wear a mask and keep to the two-metre rule - one in three people could have COVID-19 and no symptoms, so act like you’ve got it (or they have).

“If you are vulnerable and don’t have a support network nearby, please contact our Together We Can team on 0300 1237052 who will be able to get food and essential items for you.”

Superintendent Heather Dixey, of Dorset Police, said:

“We are committed to supporting our partners and communities throughout this pandemic. Our local authority partners are continuing to work with businesses to ensure they comply with the regulations.

“We would like to thank the majority of the community for wearing their masks and doing their bit to help prevent the spread of this virus.

“As part of our regular community patrols and dedicated COVID-19 Op Tattoo resources we will be visiting known supermarkets where it has been identified there is low compliance. This will not be to carry out enforcement, but to help support our businesses and partner agencies. We will intervene if anti-social behaviour is associated with non-compliance by a member of the public. Everyone is being asked to do their bit to help protect the NHS and save lives.”

We would advise our residents to shop safely when visiting supermarkets by:

  • Remembering hands-face-space
  • Shop infrequently – make a list and plan your shopping to minimise trips out
  • Shop alone wherever possible
  • Only touch items you are going to buy
  • Pay by card where possible – remember, the contactless limit is now £45
  • If you are clinically extremely vulnerable or shielding and can’t get delivery slots or support with shopping, call our Together We Can helpline on 0300 123 7052.
Posted on Monday 18 January 2021