Supermarkets hit back over Northamptonshire council leader's call to "up your game" on Covid safety

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"I see people shopping as a leisure experience and shops slightly dropping the ball," claims councillor

Bosses at Northamptonshire's biggest supermarkets have hit back at a council leader's accusations they are "slightly dropping the ball" over staying Covid safe.

Jonathan Nunn told Friday's weekly Covid-19 press conference that supermarkets needed to "up their game" over sanitisation and hygiene measures.

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But a spokesman for Tesco, which has seven of its biggest stores across the county, said: "“The safety of our customers and colleagues remains our top priority."

Northamptonshire's supermarkets insist they have not "dropped the ball" over staying Covid safe. Photo: Getty ImagesNorthamptonshire's supermarkets insist they have not "dropped the ball" over staying Covid safe. Photo: Getty Images
Northamptonshire's supermarkets insist they have not "dropped the ball" over staying Covid safe. Photo: Getty Images

Morrisons operations director Jayne Wall said: “Hygiene within our stores has become more important than ever due to the impact of Covid-19.

"We want to make sure our customers feel as safe as possible when doing their grocery shopping with us so we’ve made multi-million-pound investments to introduce first class hygiene procedures.”

Covid-19 infection rates remain higher in Northamptonshire than the England average with health officials particularly concerned about recent rises in Corby and East Northamptonshire.

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Northamptonshire's weekly rate is 78.3 new positive tests per 100,000 compared to England's 57.1.

Borough Council leader Jonathan NunnBorough Council leader Jonathan Nunn
Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn

Corby's current official rate is 182.8 and East Northants 96.3 — and rising — with fears that the majority of youngsters returning to school and easing of lockdown restrictions will lead to further increases.

Cllr Nunn, Northampton Borough Council leader, said: "I see people shopping as a leisure experience, and I see supermarkets slightly dropping the ball on their sanitising facilities and so on which at different times have been far, far stronger.

"There are still people getting very ill and there are still people dying. We're not out of the woods yet and we need to keep up precautions.

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"One of the key ways people mix with anybody is on their weekly shop. Supermarkets really need to up their game over precautions."

Tesco insist its extensive hygiene and social distancing measures in all stores ensure customers can shop safely.

A ‘one-in, one-out’ system limits the number of people in all stores with traffic lights at entrances to larger stores telling customers when they can safely enter while staff remind customers about the legal requirement to wear a face covering while floor markings keep customers a safe distance apart.

Hand sanitisers are placed around our stores for customers and staff as well as extra cleaning products for customers to wipe down their trolley or basket.

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Tesco, in common with many other big-name supermarkets, also ask customers to shop alone unless they’re a carer or with children.

Morrisons, meanwhile, have a similar progamme in place and invested millions in making their 494 stores nationwide Covid secure and increasing hygiene standards by creating nearly 2,500 extra cleaning jobs.