Supermarkets are being warned to get tougher on shoppers who violate regulations before restrictions become law.
While the rules on food purchases during the pandemic are currently not officially law, groups like Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have learned that could change if compliance does not improve, according to reports.
Social distancing was introduced to large supermarkets after the first lockdown last March, which saw limited numbers, queuing systems and floor markings.
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Wearing face masks became mandatory when the government began to ease restrictions this summer.
It comes after a study by Public Health England in November found that supermarkets are the most common exposure setting for catching COVID-19 in the country, the Mirror reports.
NHS testing and tracking data also shows that more than 18% of positive cases made it to a supermarket in the days before the bug contracted.
“We have to make sure that supermarkets in particular follow the rules as this is one of the few places where you still see people from different households in the same indoor space,” a government source told The Times.
“So we’ll look at whether all the right protections are in place – including ensuring that social distancing is respected, that one-way operations are in place, that there are limits on the number of people in stores at the same time and that all customers wear masks. ”
According to NHS data, the second most common exposure setting was secondary schools with 12 percent.
However, experts clarified that the numbers do not prove where people with the virus get the virus.
The crackdown comes after Boris Johnson told ministers at a review meeting on Sunday night that the NHS was in a ‘perilous’ position as hospital admissions in England surpassed 30,000 for the first time.
Many hospitals across Kent and the South East have been placed on high alert following the NHS crisis.
The health secretary supported stricter enforcement of the lockdown by police and warned that “any flexibility” in the rules could prove fatal.
Matt Hancock said the majority of people “follow the rules” for staying at home, but declined to criticize police over complaints that some forces were too zealous to issue fines.
“You could look at the rules and think, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter if I’m just doing this or doing that,'” he said.
“But these rules are not there as limits to be pushed, they are the limit on what people should do. ”