‘We are terrified’: Staff and customers at Sheffield Home Bargains raise social distancing fears

Several customers at a busy Home Bargains store in Sheffield have raised concerns about a relaxation of safety measures which they claim is putting people at risk.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 2:13 pm

Fay Howard said a staff member at the retailer’s Fox Valley Retail Park store told her its social distance rules had been relaxed following a memo from head office last Tuesday (5 May). Customers previously had to queue outside at a two-metre distance before entering the store, but this safety procedure has now been removed and as many as 70 customers are allowed in at any one time.

But when Fay visited Home Bargains on Friday she said there was nobody counting the number of people coming in and out and groups of children were running around the shop.

She said: “I was absolutely shocked. I felt so unsafe I abandoned what I was in there for and left.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Home Bargains on the Fox Valley Retail Park.

“The staff member was really upset and I said ‘I’m worried for you’ and she said ‘we are terrified but we can’t say anything because head office has decided it’.”

On her way out Fay saw a group of customers who had decided to form their own queue outside after seeing how busy it was inside. All of the tills had been reopened but not all of them had protective barriers separating staff from customers, Fay said.

Kathryn Giles-Bowman, whose husband witnessed people not adhering to social distance guidelines in the store when he visited earlier this week, expressed concern for the safety of her 18-year-old son who works there.

She said: “I’m very concerned about him and his colleagues, and obviously the well-being of the customers. You worry for them, even that age group are vulnerable. We don’t want him to be at risk any further.

“The majority of customers have got used to the procedures that have been put in place. This completely contradicts what we have all been educated to do over the last few weeks.”

Another woman wrote on Facebook: “I was in there this evening [Friday] as well and people were all over the place, small children running around and parents on phones. No social distancing.”

Home Bargains did not respond to The Star’s request for comment.