Oxford City Council visiting shops to ensure staff are wearing face coverings

Published: Monday, 22nd February 2021

Oxford City Council, supported by partners, are visiting supermarkets and shops across Oxford to ensure staff are wearing face coverings.

The World Health Organization says face coverings are a “key measure” to suppress the transmission of Covid-19 and save lives, and the UK Government has made it a legal requirement for staff working in supermarkets and shops to wear them.

Supermarkets

Officers from the City Council visited all 48 supermarkets in Oxford between 25 January and 6 February to check staff were wearing face coverings.

The majority of supermarkets in Oxford were complying with the law, but managers at 14 supermarkets (29.2%) were given advice to improve on certain areas and will be revisited by officers.

Other businesses

Separately, the City Council visited 33 other businesses in Oxford over the last fortnight. Complaints had been received about staff at all 33 businesses not wearing face coverings.

City Council officers gave all 33 businesses advice to improve on certain areas, and six were given formal warnings. These visits were supported by Thames Valley Police.

Follow-up visits to those businesses needing to improve have found almost all to be compliant with the face coverings law.

Covid Secure Team

The City Council enforcement officers are part of the Covid Secure Team, which was formed in September to help businesses comply with the new rules and give the public peace of mind when out and about.

Alongside providing information and support, the Oxford team also carries out patrols of the city centre, Cowley Road and other hotspots to provide advice and ensure businesses are following the rules.

The Covid Secure Team is a joint initiative by all Oxfordshire’s councils and is backed by Government funding. The team works closely with Thames Valley Police and both universities.

The City Council has written to more than 1,500 businesses across Oxford several times to inform them of the Government’s latest laws, and to provide information about how to comply with the rules. City Council officers have then followed these letters up by visiting businesses in person to inform them of the law.

In October the City Council fined two Cowley Road takeaways £1,000 for breaking coronavirus law.

Residents can report issues and concerns by email to the Covid Secure Team.

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Healthy Oxford, said: “It’s really important that businesses make sure their staff are wearing face coverings. Not only does it protect the public, it also protects their employees – and we know that supermarket employees are one of the most at-risk groups.

“We were pleased with the level of compliance in Oxford, with the vast majority of businesses doing the right thing. But there is still a small number of businesses playing fast and loose with the rules – and the health and lives of their employees and customers – and we will take action to help keep people safe.

“If you are a customer and you spot employees at a business failing to wear face coverings, or if you are a business owner and you are not sure about the latest rules, please get in touch with our Covid Secure Team.”