North Yorkshire’s retailers fly the flag for Covid-safety standards

This story was published 17 February 2021

North Yorkshire’s trading standards and environmental health officers have visited over 230 supermarkets and shops across the county over the last three weeks to ensure they have been making their premises Covid-secure and following regulations.

Person in shop

In a joint operation between the county and district councils, officers have been inspecting Covid-19 safety measures in essential shops following Government concerns that some retailers were breaching regulations.   

“Many supermarkets and other essential retailers have made huge efforts during the whole of lockdown to make their shops Covid-secure and we want to thank them for all their hard work,” said Louise Wallace, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health. “Across the whole county we have found breaches by only a handful of retailers.

“North Yorkshire’s shoppers can have real confidence that the vast majority of retail premises are Covid-safe in our county, that they carry out proper cleaning procedures and that regulations about the wearing of face masks, hand sanitising and keeping a social distance are properly applied and patrolled.”

Trading standards and environmental health teams from county and district councils carried out 140 visits to large retailers before Christmas and started another programme of inspections in January. This included:

  • Undertaking programmed inspections, telephone contacts or reactive visits based on intelligence or as a result of a complaint;
  • Inspections involve assessment of how stores are complying with the Covid rules and guidance requirements and follow-up action;
  • Shoppers with safety concerns should report those concerns to the supermarket staff or to North Yorkshire County Council’s trading standards or to Environmental Health at the district council who will assess the details and take follow up action as appropriate.

Louise Wallace said: “The vast majority of shops have been doing everything they can to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Those that have shown Covid safety failings have improved quickly following contact by trading standards or environmental health officers.

“We must now ask everybody to just keep going with the good work. We want all shops to feel Covid-safe and secure so that everyone can feel confident when they shop. Covid rates are falling and the vaccination programme is well underway so if our good work continues and we keep to the regulations we can look forward to a time when all of our shops can be open again.”

Dean Richardson, head of safer communities at Harrogate Borough Council and chair of the North Yorkshire Chief Environmental Health Officers Group, said: “Trading standards and environmental health teams from county and district councils have been making unannounced visits to large and small supermarkets across North Yorkshire to check on compliance with Covid regulations.

“By and large, compliance has been very good and feedback from businesses is that they have been grateful for the support, advice and guidance that they have received. Businesses also need the help of the public to follow the measures that are implemented and continue to wear face coverings, social distance and use the cleaning/sanitising products available.”