A DISCOUNT supermarket chain has apologised after shoppers complained its New Milton branch was not enforcing measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
New Milton Town Council and the local residents’ association both received reports alleging the Lidl store in Lymington Road did not seem to be counting customers in or out or ensuring they were observing social distancing.
This resulted in a report being made to New Forest District Council’s environmental health department.
Lidl said the branch has numerous safety measures in place, including monitoring of customer numbers during peak times, and assured shoppers that the reported lapse was being investigated.
Speaking during Monday’s virtual full council meeting, residents’ association chairman Alan Watson said he had been “inundated” with complaints about Lidl, including that no hand sanitiser points were being provided for customers.
“The communications I’ve been getting have been saying there is no control on access to the shop and also no control of customers inside,” he told councillors.
“The message was that the management had decided to cut staff at the New Milton branch by two and this was the reason why there was no longer a staff member on the door.”
Mr Watson wrote to Lidl’s head office, asking why the branch was not adhering to social distancing requirements.
Town mayor Cllr Alvin Reid referred the matter to environmental health officers at NFDC having also been contacted by a number of residents.
A district council officer visited the branch on Tuesday to carry out an inspection and speak to the manager.
A spokesperson for NFDC told the A&T it had found customer numbers were being monitored during peak times, with sanitiser points available.
People are being urged to continue raising concerns about any business’s handling of measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We received a report regarding this earlier this week and one of our officers visited the store and has spoken with the manager,” the NFDC spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Lidl told the A&T: “We take the health and safety of our customers and colleagues extremely seriously, and are committed to maintaining a safe shopping environment in our stores.
“For this reason, we have introduced a range of measures, which includes positioning designated team members at store entrances during peak hours to manage the volume of people entering at one time.”
There were also in-store floor markings, cleaning stations for customers and protective equipment for staff, they said.
The spokesperson added: “We sincerely apologise if any of these measures were not in place in this instance and confirm that this is being looked into by management. We will continue to review all of the measures we have in place to help maintain social distancing in our New Milton store.”