Success for supermarket Covid-compliance joint operation

Joint operation with Newham Council and police helps to ensure Covid-compliance in Newham’s supermarkets.

A two-week joint operation between Newham Council and the Metropolitan Police has been conducted to help ensure Covid-compliance in Borough’s supermarkets.

Environmental health, trading standards and licensing officers from Newham Council visited every supermarket in the borough, from smaller “metro shops”, to larger stores, leading high street brands and independents. More than 80 visits were conducted during the operation.

Council officers were joined by officers from the Metropolitan Police who focussed on face mask compliance and patrolled alongside council officers, carrying out full store audits both on the supermarket floor and back of house.

Whilst checking the premises were Covid secure and following the latest sector guidance, officers looked at social distancing, store capacities, protective screen use, cleaning of premises including high-contact surfaces, how queues were managed, staff and manager training and risk assessments.

Generally officers found a high level of compliance and some examples of going beyond best practice, this included retailers operating traffic light systems with door security staff challenging those not wearing face masks, and some larger stores introducing lateral flow testing for their staff members.

Unfortunately, officers also witnessed and dealt with poor practice including some supermarkets where premises were overcrowded and members of staff and the public not wearing face masks.

Officers spoke to store managers to rectify any problems observed and where further action was needed, wrote to their head office to ensure appropriate changes were made to the store’s risk assessments and controls.

Councillor James Beckles, cabinet member for Crime and Community Safety said: “We recognise that Covid-compliance, particularly within supermarkets is an important issue for residents.

“This joint operation is an example of an ongoing range of measures Newham Council is undertaking as part of our ongoing commitment to keeping residents safe, and ensuring that essential retailers are Covid-secure and compliant with the latest government guidelines. We also urge retailers to continue to take necessary measures to ensure their customers are safe, including wearing masks where they are able to.”

“Inspector Marcus Walton, Partnership and Prevent, North East Basic Command Unit, Metropolitan Police, said: “Police and local authorities have always worked closely together in Newham, but the tragedies and challenges of a global pandemic heightened the need for a best possible coordinated response. These recent joint operations, and others planned soon, show how we have successfully supported and achieved best results together.

“We have gone to great lengths to Engage, Explain and Encourage knowledge and compliance, and are grateful to those that have supported this.

“Both Police and Council are now taking strong action against those businesses or individuals deliberately and repeatedly breaching Public Health (Covid) regulations put in place for all communities’ sake.

“We still ask and implore everyone to do all they can personally to ensure all our safety.”

Council officers will continue these visits over the coming months and are in discussions with some premises to improve compliance, which may also include formal action where necessary.

We remind all residents using all supermarkets and other businesses in the borough to wear a proper face covering, unless medically exempt. To report concerns relating to Covid-compliance please email [email protected]

Published: 04 Feb 2021