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Supermarket sweep for Covid compliance

National lockdown: Stay at home. You must not leave your home unless necessary. Find out what you can and cannot do.

A photo of a supermarket displaying coronavirus safety posters

Supermarkets across Middlesbrough are being inspected to ensure they're complying with the latest lockdown laws.

The move comes as efforts intensify to stem the latest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and ease unprecedented pressure on the NHS.

Over the next two weeks, Public Protection Officers from Middlesbrough Council will be running the rule over all supermarkets, convenience stores and other food retailers in the town.

They'll be offering advice and support to ensure both staff and customers are protected.

Businesses will be reminded to ensure both staff and customers wear face coverings, encourage social distancing and manage queueing arrangements.

They'll be checking that appropriate signage is clearly displayed in-store, hygiene stations and hand sanitiser are available for customers and staff, and regular cleaning and sanitising is undertaken.

While local infection rates have shown recent falls, Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital has seen a fourfold increase in its number of Covid-19 in-patients over the last three weeks.

Shoppers are reminded to:

  • Only shop for essentials
  • Follow social distancing rules, follow one-way systems and stay two metres apart
  • Sanitise hands, baskets and trolleys
  • Wear a face covering (unless exempt)
  • Shop alone and leave children at home where possible
  • Use self-scan if possible
  • Avoid picking up or touching items unless buying
  • Stay at home if you have symptoms
  • Try and pay by card or mobile

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston, who has urged all supermarkets to enforce the wearing of face coverings, said: "The NHS is under the greatest pressure it's ever experienced, so it's down to every one of us to do everything we can do stop the spread of this dreadful disease.

"The vast majority of our supermarkets and convenience stores have worked really hard throughout the pandemic to ensure the public have access to the food and other essentials they need in the safest possible environment.

"Shoppers can play their part by shopping alone where possible, always wearing a mask and observing strict social distancing.

"These inspections are simply to ensure that safety standards are being maintained across the town - there's light at the end of the tunnel with the roll-out of the vaccine, but we can't afford to let our guard down."

Superintendent Emily Harrison, from the Cleveland Police Covid Team, said: "Supermarkets have done a fantastic job of adapting throughout these difficult months and these checks will ensure that stores are continuing with their efforts to be Covid-compliant through this most recent lockdown.

"We fully support our partners in the local authority in protecting our communities and we must all play our part in trying to stop the spread of the virus."