Cressida Dick says officers will help supermarkets enforce face mask rules, if customers become rowdy despite forces saying they don't have enough staff as Tesco, Asda and Waitrose also reintroduce bouncers and John Lewis scraps click and collect

  • Return of guards represents a return to the stricter enforcement at the start of the first lockdown in March
  • Meanwhile, John Lewis announced today it had also banned click and collect for all non-food merchandise  
  • Some shoppers today were seen still not wearing masks although the vast majority complied with the rules 
  • Cressida Dick said it was 'preposterous' people couldn't know rules as vowed to continue wider crackdown.
The ongoing crackdown on Covid-19 spread in the UK has gone to the level of compulsory wearing of face mask to patronize supermarkets and stores and the police is showing readiness to help enforce it.

Mail news states that Cressida Dick today insisted officers would come to the aid of supermarket staff if shoppers became 'aggressive' after being told to wear a mask after police warned they did not have enough manpower to enforce the rules. 

Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and M&S have now reintroduced bouncers at the door in all stores to ensure customers are wearing face coverings and socially distancing. 
Meanwhile, John Lewis today announced it would scrap click and collect for new orders from tomorrow, although it will still run at Waitrose for food orders.  

West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth this morning warned that there were not enough officers to 'stand in every store' and it was up to the supermarkets themselves to enforce the rules. 

But speaking later, Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist supermarket staff if customers became 'obstructive and aggressive' when they were told they must wear a face covering. She also said it was 'preposterous' people couldn't know rules as vowed to continue wider crackdown.
Bouncers were in place at the start of the first lockdown in March to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, but began to vanish as the threat posed by Covid-19 waned during the summer, leading to an increasingly 'lax' attitude from shoppers who were increasingly seen maskless. 
But as alarm bells were sounded by Downing Street and scientists warned that shops were contributing to the rise in cases, the Big Four supermarkets today returned to the previous, stricter arrangement.  
Mr Booth said officers would only intervene if 'other offences were committed', such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive. 
'If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don't have the resources to stand at every supermarket,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 

It came as Boris Johnson gathered his Cabinet after warning he could further strengthen the restrictions if people continued flouting the law - as ministers defended his controversial decision to go cycling in the Olympic Park, seven miles from Downing Street. 

Meanwhile, today's mask crackdown ran into problems from day one today as some shoppers continued refusing to follow the rules, despite the vast majority complying with them. 
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted today: 'Don't get caught out when you're at the supermarket — remember always to take a face mask with you when you're leaving your home. Wear it on the way to the shop and in the queue as well. We need to be doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.'
Shoppers arriving at Morrisons in Peckham, south London were greeted by a security guard instructing them to put on their masks or they would not be allowed in.

One woman who came without her mask was warned that if she did not put it on, she would not be allowed to continue with her shop.

The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: 'I had a mask with me but simply forgot. I've come into the supermarket lots of times before and not put it on, but I think it's a good thing that they are enforcing this.'

But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: 'I find them too uncomfortable. I don't see what the fuss is, I've got a mask on, it's just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment.'
As Gladys shopped in the store, she was not challenged about how she was wearing her mask.  

Shoppers were pictured without face masks today at a series of supermarkets, including Asda, Morrisons and Tesco in London, Leeds and Swindon. 

Supermarkets may be the most common place where people in England are exposed to the coronavirus, official data suggests. 
When asked about the crackdown, a shopper at a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London said: 'It's about time. 

'A lot of people are going to supermarkets and simply ignoring the rules.
'I don't know why it's taken Morrisons this long to start enforcing this rule.
'We're living in very difficult times and we've all got to pull together to beat this virus.'
A second, who refused to give her name, did not have a mask covering her nose. She said: 'What's the problem I've got a mask on haven't I?
'I find it difficult to breathe when I've got a mask on and sometimes get a rash.
'I think it's good to enforce the rule but they've got to understand that for some people, masks are very uncomfortable.'
The store's security guard, who did not want to give his name, said: 'We've been given strict instructions about masks. If you've not got one on, you're not getting in. It's as simple as that.'
The security guard added that until today, they had not been challenging customers who were without masks.

He added: 'It wasn't our responsibility to enforce it and we were told to call the police, which we never did. 
'This is going to create more problems for us because my concern is that some people will not want to wear a mask and will fight with us over it. So far, we've not had many problems.'
Despite several instances of rule-breaking, most shoppers at supermarkets visited by MailOnline today were wearing masks. 
During the first shutdown, supermarkets installed bouncers at store entrances to challenge rule-breakers and created in-store one-way systems to help people socially distance. 

MailOnline has asked all major supermarkets if they plan to follow Sainsbury's and Morrisons in reintroducing bouncers.  
Britain's policing minister Kit Malthouse this morning said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops, but measures imposed and enforced by owners would be effective in most cases.

Brian Booth, chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said officers would only intervene if 'other offences were committed', such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive. 

'If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don't have the resources to stand at every supermarket,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 

Mr Booth also criticised the current regulations as 'woolly', saying they left too many 'loose ends' which 'cheesed-off' officers had to interpret for themselves. 
He suggested that the much-publicised fining of two walkers in Derbyshire was correct according to the guidance. 
'An officer issued a ticket in the spirit it was written,' told the Today programme. Normally in law, when you have a new law it is disputed and goes to the court where it is argued and becomes case law. 

'But we don't have time for that, so what we need is a sound basis in law and we need it now, rather than leaving loose ends.' 
It came as Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said it was 'preposterous' that people would not know the Covid rules, and vowed to continue fining lawbreakers.

Writing in the Times today, Dame Cressida said: 'It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. 
'We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.

'We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.' 
Ms Dick said today that police will move 'swiftly' to fine people who blatantly ignore coronavirus lockdown rules and said officers in London had issued more than 300 fixed penalty notices in the space of 24 hours for 'flagrant' violations of the regulations.

Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist supermarket staff if customers became 'obstructive and aggressive' when they were told they must wear a face covering. 
And in a veiled criticism of the PM's Olympic Park bike ride Dame Cressida Dick said: 'For me, a reasonable interpretation of that is that if you can go for your exercise from your front door and come back to your front door', adding: 'The public are looking to all of us as role models'. 

Ministers have warned that tougher lockdown rules could be introduced to stem a rise in cases.  
Britons can go on 70 mile bike rides but only sit on park benches 'for a short pause', should think carefully about meeting a friend for a coffee while walking and must never go to the supermarket without a mask, they said today.

Mr Malthouse also accused the public of 'searching for the loopholes in the law' by flouting the third national lockdown - comparing it to pubs serving scotch eggs to stay open last year - and insisted that it is the police's job to scrutinise where people are going and who they are meeting outdoors.

Amid widespread confusion about whether people are allowed to sit on park benches during their daily exercise, No10 sources also told MailOnline a 'short pause' during the course of exercise would be 'reasonable'. However, they stressed it would be unlawful to go out 'just to sit in public'. 

Mr Malthouse insisted Boris Johnson's decision to go cycling in the Olympic Park seven miles from Downing Street was 'within the rules' and legal, saying the PM's Sunday ride in east London was fine because 'local is open to interpretation' and that a 50 to 70 mile bike ride starting and ending at home would also be fine in most cases.

He said: 'I understand that this is a sort of scotch egg moment where people are searching for the loopholes and the problems in the law. Unfortunately we can't legislate for every single dynamic of human existence. If you can get there under your own steam and you are not interacting with somebody ... then that seems perfectly reasonable to me'.   

No 10 is yet to confirm if Mr Johnson cycled to the Olympic Park himself or was conveyed to east London by car as some Tory MPs complained that too much power is being handed to police.
Dame Cressida has also asked the Government to enshrine the definition of 'local' in law to make it easier to police as it emerged that officers in Devon and Cornwall are even using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to make sure only essential journeys are being made during lockdown - and hunt down people travelling to second homes.
Hampshire Police are also using drones to watch people visiting the waterfront at Southsea to ensure they are social distancing and not meeting in groups. 

Shopworkers have revealed that they are receiving abuse from customers for encouraging them to wear masks.
A Tesco worker from Gloucestershire, said she was 'horrified' by responses she had received after challenging customers, adding: 'I find, and so do my colleagues, that it's not as strict as the first lockdown.'

A staff member at an Asda store in north-west Merseyside said: 'I used to ask people on the front door for proof of exemption and the abuse I got was mostly from the younger generation.
'My manager told me we have to offer them a mask but can't enforce it so I feel it's a waste of time.' 
The shopworkers' union Usdaw said it had been 'inundated' with complaints from its members of abuse during the pandemic, and demanded supermarkets and food retailers revert to 'stringent' restrictions.  

High street chains including Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose insisted that Covid safety remains their 'highest priority' and said that customers were given regular reminders to follow the rules.

But shocking examples of the regulations being broken were seemingly evident in the big-brand shops as Boris Johnson warned of 'complacency' and urged people to comply with the restrictions. 

It comes amid threats to impose outdoor mask mandates, with London's Borough Market becoming the first place in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of masks while the Welsh health minister hinted that restrictions could get even tougher as he advised people to wear masks inbetween shops in public. 
The PM said : 'We need to enforce the rules in supermarkets. When people are getting takeaway drinks, in cafes, then they need to avoid spreading the disease there, avoid mingling too much.'

In a statement, Morrisons said it had 'introduced and consistently maintained thorough and robust safety measures in all our stores' since last year.
But it added: 'From today we are further strengthening our policy on masks' - revealing that security guards at the UK's fourth-biggest supermarket chain will be enforcing the new rules.  

Enforcement of face masks is the responsibility of the police, not retailers. Wearing face masks in supermarkets and shops is compulsory across the UK.

In England, the police can issue a £200 fine to someone breaking the face covering rules. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, a £60 fine can be imposed. Repeat offenders face bigger fines.
Morrisons' chief executive David Potts announced: 'Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won't be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt.
'Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind.'

Sainsbury's chief executive Simon Roberts said: 'On behalf of all my colleagues, I am asking our customers to help us keep everyone safe. 

'The vast majority of customers are shopping safely, but I have also seen some customers trying to shop without a mask and shopping in larger family groups. 
'Please help us to keep all our colleagues and customers safe by always wearing a mask and by shopping alone. Everyone's care and consideration matters now more than ever.'    

Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised Morrisons for imposing a blanket mask rule, telling a Downing Street press conference: 'It isn't just about the Government and the rules we set, or the police and the work that they do - it's about how everybody behaves.

'I applaud the action Morrisons has taken today, the supermarket, they have said that they will not let people in without a mask unless they clearly have a medical reason. That's the right approach and I want to see all parts of society playing their part in this.'

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday voiced his concerns that members of the public were not complying with measures put in place by supermarkets, amid suggestions the restrictions may need to be toughened. 

'I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system and making sure when it's at capacity they wait outside the supermarket,' he said. 
It comes amid reports that shopworkers are receiving abuse from customers who are not wearing masks, with Lincoln-based supermarket staffer Skye Henson, 23, saying people took the first lockdown 'a lot more seriously' and claiming 'we're lucky if people are wearing masks' now.
She told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat: 'A good 30 per cenr of the people that come into our shop don't wear masks and just outright don't think it's an issue. They don't consider us to be in any kind of danger, so for me I do think a lot of it is the public putting us at risk.' 

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: 'Retail staff are working with the public every day and not only suffer increased abuse, but are deeply worried about catching Covid-19. 
'Where safety measures are agreed, retailers need to make sure that they are being followed consistently, in every store.
'We are also very concerned by reports that too many customers are not following necessary safety measures like social distancing, wearing a face covering and only shopping for essential items.  

'It is going to take some time to roll out the vaccine and we cannot afford to be complacent in the meantime, particularly with a new strain sweeping the nation. 
'I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system and making sure when it's at capacity they wait outside the supermarket.'   

Retail industry body the British Retail Consortium said that workers have faced an increase in incidents of violence and abuse when trying to encourage shoppers to put them on.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: 'Supermarkets continue to follow all safety guidance and customers should be reassured that supermarkets are Covid-secure and safe to visit during lockdown and beyond.

'Customers should play their part too by following in-store signage and being considerate to staff and fellow shoppers.' 
One woman told MailOnline how Marks and Spencer told her they could not challenge people who do not adhere to the mask mandate.
Fiona Call said she was shopping at a Food Hall at Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire when she saw a woman 'blatantly marching around the store with her mask under her chin'.
'I mentioned this to a manager in the store. 
'His reply was that they aren't allowed to challenge people who aren't adhering to the rules,' she said.
'She was obviously putting many people at risk by her behaviour and no one was able to do anything about it.'
Marks and Spencer insisted it was enforcing lockdown rules, with a 'friendly host at the entrance' who counts customers and manages queues. 

Tesco said it was still enforcing social distancing practices in store but was not looking yet at reintroducing measures such as one-way aisles.

'The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority and we already have extensive social distancing measures in our stores to ensure everyone can shop safely with us,' the store said on Twitter.

'We are asking all our customers to wear a face covering when visiting our stores and have prominent signs in place to inform customers of the rules. 
'However, there may be some customers who are unable to wear a face covering for medical or safety reasons and we have asked our colleagues to respect that and to not challenge them directly.' 

Waitrose said face masks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one. 
It said marshals flank the entrances to its stores to check people are complying with the mask mandate and checking that people are shopping alone.

The supermarket chain has also laid out floor markers which instruct customers to following social distancing rules, while signs and tannoys tell people to keep two metres apart while queueing on the premises.  
Data from Public Health England last week found 11 outbreaks of the disease had come from food outlets.
But England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said supermarket staff would not be initially prioritised for vaccinations unless they also fell into the highest vulnerability categories.

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