Tesco petrol stations in Southend under fire over ‘disgraceful’ failure to follow Covid-19 safety rules

Two Tesco stores in Southend could be at risk of closure for not following Covid-19 safety guidance and failing to cooperate with the council, a leading councillor has said.

Councillor Martin Terry (Ind), who oversees public safety in the borough, was left furious after visiting a Tesco petrol station on Prince Avenue in Westcliff and discovering failures by the company to follow the crucial safety measures.

Among the problems was there was no clear limit on the number of customers in the kiosk, no requirement for masks and no hand sanitiser available for customers.

Cllr Terry claimed the council has also had to investigate a Tesco Express store in Southchurch Avenue, Kursaal, after that was also found to be failing to do enough to keep people safe.

He said: “At the petrol station on Prince Avenue I had to touch the petrol pumps, I had to pull open a door and had to the use the keypad to pay for the petrol on card as most transactions are over the tap pay limit.

“I asked if there was some hand sanitiser available and was told if I want it, I need to buy it. There was a completely dismissive and bad attitude about the situation and when I reported it and uniformed officers went in the next day, they got the same thing.

“They experienced the problem at a store in Kursaal as well.

“It seems Tesco is being very complacent about this and they are not being Covid secure.

“We have got to avoid the risk of a second wave and this sends out the wrong message.

“It is a disgrace.”

He went on to explain that if the problems persist the council can send in their environmental health team and if they find the two stores are operating in a dangerous manner, they could be closed down.

He continued: “It would be the ultimate sanction and we don’t want to do that. But there are thousands of people going in and out of those buildings and I was absolutely shocked there is nothing there about Covid-19.”

In an email following a visit by officers, the manager of Southend’s Community Safety team told Cllr Terry they are exploring how to escalate the issue as “officers weren’t happy with response or indication to make changes”.

Tesco was asked about whether any form of investigation would be carried out into the claims made by the councillor and what improvements could be made to the stores but a spokesman claimed they were already “following government guidance” and it is customers who need to ensure they are following the rules.

He said: “The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority and we are closely following government guidance.

“We have reviewed the social distancing measures in our stores to ensure that they are in line with the latest guidance and that everyone can continue to maintain a safe distance.

“We ask that our customers continue to support us by following the measures in place.”


Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter