Redbridge Council investigates Hainault supermarket over alleged non compliance of rules on wearing of face masks

A Lidl in Hainault is being investigated by Redbridge Council after a councillor reported a “huge amount” of shoppers not wearing face masks.

Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) called on the council to visit the store on Fencepence Road, issue a fine and even consider closing it down “for blatant non-compliance” of COVID rules.

The council’s cabinet member for health Cllr Mark Santos agreed the store “needs to take this matter more seriously” and that the enforcement team would investigate.

A spokesperson for Lidl said their stores are “closely following government guidance” but “cannot enforce the wearing of face coverings”.

On Monday (November 9), Cllr Santos tweeted: “I just spoke to (the) deputy store manager. An unsatisfactory conversation – very disappointing.

“The store needs to take this matter more seriously. I have passed to (Redbridge Council’s) enforcement team to investigate.”

Responding to a Lidl spokesperson who said they could not challenge shoppers “due to possible exemptions”, he added: “I disagree… people who have exemptions will understand.”

It is understood the company has not yet received a report from the council about this issue.

Cllr Canal had said he was “dismayed” by the “huge amount” of shoppers not wearing masks at the store, asking: “Is it now voluntary?”

He later tweeted: “Have been advised responsibility lies with Lidl, who are risking a fine, but more importantly risking the lives of their staff and other customers. Unacceptable.”

On October 28, the council said it had already issued around £20,000 worth of fines to businesses breaking Covid regulations.

This includes a £1,000 fine to the owner of a Goodmayes shisha bar, where police had a fire extinguisher used on them as they tried to shut down an illegal event.

An Ilford Lane fast food takeaway was fined the same amount for serving a customer four minutes past the 10pm curfew.

A Lidl spokesperson said they have been “working closely” with the local council and other bodies “to ensure a safe shopping environment”.

They said: “Whilst supermarkets cannot enforce the wearing of face coverings, the authorities have the power to issue either a fine or fixed penalty to those who do not comply and are not exempt.

“To help communicate the regulations we have signage in place across all of our stores and have issued updates on social media and our website.

“We also remain mindful of those who come under government exemptions such as customers with hidden disabilities.”

They added that measures at the store to encourage COVID compliance include placing staff at the entrances in peak times to manage crowds in the store and a “raft of clear communication” reminding customers to keep their distance.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter