A number of supermarket retail bosses have spoken out to explain why they won’t be enforcing the new face mask rules in stores across the UK.
Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland are among the retailers who say they have no plans to challenge customers over the wearing of a face covering in store, after masks once again became compulsory on public transport and shops as of yesterday as part of efforts to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant.
The compulsory wearing of face coverings is one of a handful of new measures that have been introduced in England.
The UK government says that the new measures – which were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a Downing Street news conference this past Saturday evening, and confirmed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid this week – are being taken as a “precaution to slow down the spread of the variant”
The measures will be in place while the government attempts to “gather more information”.
Budget supermarket chain Iceland was the first retailer to grab headlines yesterday after it confirmed it would not be asking customers to wear masks to stop staff members facing unwarranted abuse, with Managing Director Richard Walker telling BBC’s Radio Four Today programme that while the chain supported the reintroduction of face masks, it would be unfair to ask staff to confront people not wearing masks.
“They are already working under significant pressure, especially as we hit the busiest trading month of the year,” he said.
“I won’t be putting my staff at any risk of confrontation or abuse.”
It’s believed that Tesco – the UK’s largest supermarket chain – will only be putting signs up to remind customers about face mask rules, rather than enforcing them, which looks to be a stance echoed by Aldi and Lidl, which are also understood to have no plans to challenge customers over the next three weeks.
Sainsbury’s said it will have “greeters and security guards at the front of our supermarkets” to remind people to wear masks, while Morrisons is too expected to have staff members checking the wearing of face masks at the front of the shops.
Both Morrisons and Asda said they will be handing out masks at the front of stores to customers who have forgotten to bring them.
Industry body The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said it is up to police to enforce face mask rules, not retailers, and that incidents of physical violence aimed at retailers have increased by two thirds, with reasons mainly being around COVID-19 rules.
New COVID-19 measures
All international arrivals must take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status, and they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
Face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and on public transport from next week, and all hospitality settings will be exempt.
Body found at Bolton restaurant and suspected cannabis farm days after fire
A body has been found at the site of a fire in Bolton, days after a blaze ripped through a restaurant.
It’s believed that the fire started on the first floor of the property, with early inquiries suggesting it may have been used as a cannabis farm.
Human remains were found at the premises on Bolton Road in Farnworth.
A criminal investigation is now underway and Greater Manchester Police are appealing for information and footage relating to the incident.
Emergency services had first been called to the area at around 1pm on Monday 27 November, to reports of a fire.
Earlier today, Saturday 2 December, a body was found during a search of the restaurant building, days after the fire.
Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Naismith of GMP Major Incident Team said: “Work is ongoing to identify the deceased and we are committed to ensuring the potential family members are fully supported and informed of updates in this investigation.
“The loss of life is a tragedy and I understand the upset this news will cause in the local community. I can assure you on behalf of the investigation team that we are determined to get to the bottom of what has occurred and establish the circumstances surrounding the fire.
“I can confirm this fire is being treated as suspicious and if there is any criminal responsibility, it will be brought to light and dealt with appropriately. We are particularly interested to hear from anyone who knows how this building was being used in the lead up to 27 November 2023.
“I would also like to appeal to anyone with information about the fire itself – including if you have any footage (such as CCTV, mobile or dashcam) – to contact GMP’s Major Incident Team.”
You can make a report by calling 0161 856 1995 quoting log number 1485 of 27/11/2023 or via the reporting function on GMP’s website: www.gmp.police.uk
Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Tameside police officers hailed ‘absolute heroes’ after saving the life of a seven-year-old girl
Two Tameside police officers have been hailed as “absolute heroes” after saving the life of a seven-year-old little girl.
It comes after emergency services were called to an address in the Greater Manchester borough of Tameside earlier this week (29 November), and found a young girl who was struggling to breath and coughing up blood after choking on a sweet.
Police Constables Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell, from Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) Tameside division, were first on the scene.
To the huge relief of the girl’s parents, who were said to be “understandably distressed” and concerned for her welfare, PC Kincaid jumped straight into action and was able to utilise his first aid training to full effect by going on to successfully dislodge the sweet from the youngster’s throat, and then helping to calm her down before the paramedics arrived.
Whilst PC Kincaid looked after the little girl, PC Blundell did “everything he could” to help the parents remain calm.
Paramedics then took over once they arrived, and the young girl was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Reflecting on the incident, and hailing his officers “absolute heroes”, Superintendent Mike Walsh, from GMP’s Tameside district, said: “PCs Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell acted without hesitation during the incident, and took control of the situation that they were faced with.
“They deserve every credit for staying calm under extreme pressure and for working together as a team and utilising their training to lifesaving effect, and I’m sure the girl’s parents and family will consider them to be absolute heroes.”
“We’re both glad that we were in the right place at the right time,” PC Kincaid added.
“I have a daughter the same age as the little girl who needed our help, and I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was when she started breathing normally and said she was okay after I had managed to dislodge the sweet.