Published: Tuesday, 15th Sep 2020

Major supermarket chains should be doing more to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, council bosses have warned.

Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police have received multiple complaints of customers not wearing face coverings and a lack of social distancing in some of the borough’s largest stores.

Bolton has the highest rate of COVID-19 infections of anywhere in the country with a sudden spike in cases bringing the figure to just below 200 per 100,000.

Strict new measures have been brought in to prevent the virus from spreading in pubs and restaurants, but other business settings continue to pose a significant infection risk.

Under COVID-19 regulations, supermarkets should limit numbers, introduce measures such as signage and a one-way system and customers should wear face coverings.

One supermarket in the borough has already received a formal warning from Bolton Council’s enforcement team and senior managers at all chains have been reminded of their responsibilities.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Regulatory Services, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, said: “A weekly visit to the supermarket is an unavoidable part of family life for many households in Bolton.

“It is therefore unacceptable that these multi-million-pound businesses are not doing more to ensure their facilities are as COVID secure as they can possibly be.

“As an essential retailer they need to make sure they are enforcing queuing, limits on customer numbers, two metre distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

“Supermarkets should be prepared to have a member staff at the door reminding people to follow the rules. A polite reminder can help make all the difference.

“This council will not hesitate to take tough action against businesses of any size that do not take their responsibilities seriously.”

Chief Inspector Nicola Williams, from Greater Manchester Police, added: "We're looking for supermarkets to take social responsibility and become more proactive in this area to help fight the virus. We all have a part to play in reducing the number of cases in Bolton."

A joint taskforce between Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police is working together to make sure that businesses and individuals are complying with new regulations.

People can report concerns about businesses not complying to