Meadowhall branded a ‘breeding ground for coronavirus’ as shoppers ignore social distancing rules

A Sheffield shopper has slammed Meadowhall for failing to enforce social distancing measures, claiming she did not feel safe when shopping there.

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 2:55 pm

The woman, who is retired and wished to remain anonymous, went to the shopping centre last Thursday (July 30) and has said that her experience means that she will not be returning while the pandemic is ongoing.

She said: “I was in the centre for about an hour in total. At no point did I see any security or other Meadowhall staff. People were blithely wandering around not following social distancing measures or adhering to the one way system.

"A large number were not wearing masks. I observed several groups of youths, maskless in one case, completely ignoring the red notice outside one shop, wandering in jostling and laughing and then picking up and putting down items. One did have a mask in his hand but on going into the shop put it on top of his head.

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A look inside Meadowhall shopping centre at the new measures that have been out in place ahead of shops reopening on Monday June 15th. Shoppers need to keep left and follow the signs.

"I live on my own, have been out rarely through all this and am trying very hard to follow all the rules.

"At the end of the day I’m not prepared to risk my health because other people seem to think they are either immune to the disease or that this is all over.”

Ahead of shops reopening in Meadowhall on June 15, the shopping centre detailed measures it would be taking to ensure people’s safety.

A spokesperson for the shopping centre explained: ““We’ve introduced a range of extra measures to support the health and safety of our colleagues and customers.

Meadowhall reopened with social distancing measures in place on June 15. Picture: Chris Etchells

"These measures include installing hand sanitising stations throughout the centre, introducing ‘keep left’ systems to help everyone keep a safe distance, and continuing with our enhanced cleaning regimes, which includes regular cleaning of key touchpoints throughout the day.”

However, the shopper said that these rules were not being properly enforced.

She said: "When they reopened properly to shoppers Meadowhall said they would be monitoring the number of people in the centre. I saw no signs of that being done.

"Meadowhall must be held to account for not having staff in place to at least attempt to control and advise people of the rules. Meadowhall usually has police officers in evidence and did in days before restrictions were eased (I use the pharmacy there for prescriptions).

A look inside Meadowhall shopping centre at the new measures that have been out in place ahead of shops reopening on Monday June 15th. Shoppers need to keep left and follow the signs.

"People travel easily from areas outside the city, including some of the areas now under increased restrictions and may be bringing infection with them. There is nothing I can see in the new rules to prevent them from continuing to do so.

"To say my confidence was rocked yesterday is an understatement.”

A spokesperson from Meadowhall responded to these criticisms.

They highlighted the fact that while masks were mandatory in shops, it could be possible that some of the people seen not wearing them were exempt from doing so for legitimate reasons.They added that masks were not mandatory in the dining area, as per the Government guidelines.

Meadowhall confirmed that the community policing team was on site every day, and that all the measures brought into use in June were still being enforced.

The spokesperson also said: “In line with government guidance, wearing a face covering is also mandatory in our centre and shops. We have installed new signage throughout the centre reminding everyone to wear a face covering if they can, and our Meadowhall colleagues are on hand to provide support and assistance. We are of course being sensitive to the fact that some people are exempt under the new regulations.

“To make it easy for our shoppers, last week we launched a range of face coverings in partnership with Sheffield Children’s Hospital, available from our customer service desks.

"All proceeds will help to provide important financial support to the hospital as well as its patients, families and staff.

“We would like to thank our customers for complying with the guidance and shopping safely with us.”