An open letter has today been sent to managers of large stores in Knowsley from Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council.
The letter reminds them of the specific responsibilities they have to ensure that Covid-19 safety measures are in place within their stores – and that shoppers and staff are adhering to the rules.
It comes in response to complaints from members of the public around non-compliance on Covid-19 measures in a number of local stores (including face coverings not being worn or social distancing being adhered to). Following the rules is particularly important at the current time given Knowsley’s significant increase in Covid-19 confirmed cases recently.
Here’s the letter, in full:
AN OPEN LETTER
TO THE MANAGERS OF LARGE STORES IN KNOWSLEY
As the Leader of Knowsley Council – the local authority whose area your store operates in – I want to call upon you to do all that you can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In many case, the residents of Knowsley will be your neighbours, customers and/or employees, and I have been contacted many times in recent weeks by those same people to raise their concerns as to adherence to social distancing in the Borough’s supermarkets and stores. We all need to do more.
I am sure that, like me, you are more than aware of the current significant and rapid spread in cases of COVID-19 across the country and particularly in our area. Knowsley is now one of the places in the country which is most at risk of infection from COVID-19.
We are experiencing a rapid escalation in the numbers of people testing positive for the virus. It is clear that COVID-19 is now in wide circulation in our communities and the numbers tell us that without doubt, given that hundreds of shoppers regularly congregate in your store, people who are infected with the virus will be in your store as well.
This is why we all need to work together to ensure that people who visit retail stores or work in them are following the latest guidance and advice if we are to limit the spread of the virus within your premises.
This work is now more important than ever.
From the persistent complaints which the Council is receiving and from the data – which clearly shows the rate at which the virus is replicating – we need to do more. As a Store Manager, I am asking you to increase your efforts in terms of encouraging customers to wear face coverings whilst in your store.
I welcome Asda’s recent national announcement (made on 23 September 2020) about staring to take steps to enforce the face covering rules by offering disposable masks if customers enter the store without one. In addition, over 1,000 safety marshals are being created to work within 639 Asda stores and extra hand sanitisers will be installed in the busiest sections of their stores.
I look forward to seeing such measures introduced urgently here in Knowsley and I hope that other stores across the Borough will take their responsibilities as seriously to provide safe environments for staff and customers alike.
I thank those of you who have already been taking such steps, but call upon those who have not yet done so to take these steps now and as a matter of urgency.
I recognise that you also need the support of our local communities if you are to ensure that your store is a safe place for staff and customers. And I appreciate the difficulties which arise for you and your staff when it comes to people who refuse to accept the guidance and the legislation. I will be publishing this as an open letter on the Council’s website, so that our residents can also appreciate what I have asked you to do. I am also calling upon those residents to support you by also following the guidance and the law. And I am calling upon Merseyside Police to support the Council in tackling those who choose to ignore the law.
I hope that you will now increase your efforts to take all possible precautions as we all face a very difficult couple of months. I am sure that you recognise your responsibilities as Store Manager in ensuring that the environment which you manage is as safe as it possibly can be – for your customers and for your staff.
Given the current spread of the virus and our ongoing concerns about safety within stores across the Borough, I also want to point out your specific responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and RIDDOR 2013. As I am sure you are aware, you have a duty of care to protect the health of all of your employees as well as those persons not employed who may be affected by your activities. You should also be reviewing risk assessments and reporting any workplace disease outbreaks.
I recognise that your store provides an essential resource for our residents, and that’s why I want to do all that I can to ensure that you can continue to provide this essential service. But I also need to ensure that our residents are not at risk when accessing food and other supplies in your premises.
I hope that the Borough’s residents will be able to count on your support for them. Given the current risk posed by COVID-19, we will not hesitate to pursue enforcement in cases where these responsibilities are not taken seriously. In addition, Merseyside Police also has the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to members of public for not wearing face coverings. They have confirmed to us that they would be prepared to issue such Fixed Penalty Notices at your store if required. I am sure that we would want to avoid such action as it would no doubt deter shoppers from visiting and potentially cause issues for other shoppers who are abiding by the rules. I hope we are able to work together positively on this matter and help to stop the spread of COVID-19 within our communities and amongst your staff and customers.
Councillor Graham Morgan
Leader of Knowsley Council
Issued to the Store Managers of:-
B&M (Huyton, Kirkby, and Prescot Retail Park)
Home Bargains (Halewood, Huyton, Prescot Shopping Centre, and Manchester Road, Prescot)
JD Sports (Prescot Cables Retail Park)
M&S Food (Prescot Cables Retail Park)
Next (Prescot Cables Retail Park)
Nisa Parry (Stockbridge Village)
Outfit (Prescot Cables Retail Park)
Pets at Home (Prescot Cables Retail Park)
Tesco (Prescot Cables Retail Park)