New supermarket restrictions could come into effect – meaning shoppers face tougher rules on their next trip to the shops.
A crackdown could be launched on coronavirus restrictions and measures in supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl.
Waitrose, Morrisons and all other essential supermarkets could also be impacted.
It comes after a Public Health England study in November found supermarkets are the most common exposure setting for catching Covid-19 in the country.
The crackdown comes after Boris Johnson told ministers during a review meeting on Sunday night the NHS was in a “perilous” position as England’s hospital admissions passed 30,000 for the first time.
“We need to make sure supermarkets in particular are following the rules given this is one of the few places where you still see people from different households in the same indoor space,” a Government source told The Times.
“So we will be looking at whether all the right protections are in place – including ensuring social distancing is being followed, that one way operations are in place, that there are limits on the number of people in stores at one time and that all customers are wearing masks.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was unable to assure that the current “tough” lockdown restrictions are sufficient and raised concerns of people not sticking to the rules in supermarkets or when exercising outside.
Current restrictions become law
While rules on food shopping during the pandemic are currently not officially law shops have been told this could change if compliance doesn’t improve, the Mirror reports.
Social distancing enforced
Social distancing was introduced in supermarkets following the first lockdown last March, while wearing face masks came in as the Government began to ease restrictions in the summer.
Pressed on whether the current restrictions are enough, Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t want to use tougher measures, the lockdown is tough, schools are shut, but it is important to remember this virus loves social interactions.
“We’re reviewing all the restrictions, but these are pretty tough at the moment. 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.
“I’m worried about some of the pictures I’ve seen of social interactions in parks, if you have to exercise you can go out for exercise only.”
Ministers are also preparing to tell supermarket bosses to get tougher on policing social distancing restrictions and mask wearing in-store, the Times said.
People could also be asked to wear face coverings in shop queues and even at work, it was claimed.