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Lockdown and supermarkets

Since the Prime Minister announced a nationwide lockdown to try to contain the virus, Eastbourne infections are up from 77 per 100,000 in November to 801 on January 1st.

This necessary lockdown is the final nail in the coffin for many retailers and small businesses and will affect jobs and local families. As you know, Chamber members were concerned that the level of protection offered by some supermarkets is inadequate and so we conducted a survey of all the major supermarkets across the town in the run up to Christmas.

Government and Public Health England Covid Surveillance Reports show that the most likely source of infection is from visits to supermarkets, followed by secondary schools and then primary schools so it is understandable that the government is restricting access to schools. However, we all need to eat and so supermarkets remain open.

Read The Herald article here for details of our survey and the responses received from supermarkets. Also, see the detailed copy of our survey below.

As you will see, the survey discovered that with the exception of Tesco in Lottbridge Road, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury's in The Beacon Centre who were excellent, the protection protocols were very hit and miss.

Some supermarket staff were not wearing masks; some stores were not controlling numbers of customers on entry, none of them had a one way system, many were not cleaning card payment PDQ machines or self payment touch screens, some staff changed tills without wiping the till between members of staff and some staff had no idea of the cleaning protocols including one person who told us "don't worry, the virus isn't in Eastbourne".

If some supermarkets are enabling the virus to spread, it is our members who are having to pay the price by closing during lockdown.
To stop the spread we must all challenge our local stores to do what Tesco, M&S and Sainsbury's do.

Recommended Covid Protocols
  • Clear signage displaying rules at the entrance
  • Mask wearing mandatory in the store
  • Reduce shopping to one person to keep numbers down - discourage couples or families
  • Automated counting systems on all entrance doors
  • All staff to wear masks on the shop floor
  • A member of staff in the entrance encouraging people to queue, wear masks and remain distanced
  • Sanitised baskets and trolleys at the entrance
  • All staff well briefed and aware of the need to clean PDQ machines regularly
  • All staff well briefed and aware of the need to clean touch screens regularly
  • At change over staff wiping tills down throughly along with payment pads

As a consequence of these clear rules, Sainsbury, M&S and Tesco customers were more careful to maintain social distancing than in other busy stores.