SUPERMARKET staff in Swindon say the actions of shoppers are putting them in danger.

While Covid-19 rules are in place for customers – including mask wearing and social distancing – workers who have shared their experiences with the Adver have told of their fear of catching the deadly virus while on duty.

Swindon's case rate is the highest in the south west, with the country currently in a third lockdown in a bid to relieve mounting pressure on the NHS.

Supermarket workers say they have been verbally abused when trying to encourage customers to stick to the measures in place.

One worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims that people are blatantly ignoring the rules. 

They said: “I don’t feel safe at all. People are not covering their noses with masks, they’re leaning round perspex shields and nobody is keeping to social distancing.

“They get abusive if asked to comply. They’ll be out with their partners and children and definitely not shopping for just essentials. 

"With the rise of asymptomatic cases, people are thinking ‘ah, it’s fine, we’ll be fine even if we do get it’ and they’re not thinking about the vulnerable people they could pass it to. 

“Other countries have enforcements like special permission papers they need to produce if out of their houses. 

“People need to take responsibility or the government needs to do more to enforce the rules and shops to police incoming and outgoing customers.”

Another anonymous shopworker added: “Some people are lovely and respectful, some are not.

“And we, well, we have to be polite and put a smile on even when people are being absolute idiots.”

And a third said: “Nobody has had an easy time working through this. 

“I had a man screaming in my face calling me an offensive name when the restrictions came in – and a little old lady crying to me she couldn’t find any toilet roll.

“We have zero control over what customers do or say to us at a time where people are so angry so they take it out on us.”

The first worker claimed their employer could do more to help.

“All the shop cares about is profit," they said. "They have issued all staff with masks and gel – but good luck with that sort of thing. 

“We don’t get statutory sick pay for first three days if we go off with test and trace isolation notices or Covid itself. 

“The shop is not policing the doors for who is allowed in and not policing the essential shopping side of it either."

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw said it had been “inundated” with complaints from its members – who are classed as key workers – and called for supermarkets to revert to more stringent in-store measures.

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.

“Retailers need to make sure that rules are being followed consistently, in every store.

“We are 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.

“Many retail workers are at a greater risk of catching the virus and bringing it home to their families.”

A number of supermarket companies have said they will start to police the use of masks in shops after Boris Johnson urged the public to respect regulations when out grocery shopping and buying takeaway coffee.

The prime minister said people needed to “do the right thing” by adhering to social distancing guidance when out of the house.

He added: “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.”

Supermarket chain Morrisons said customers who refuse to wear a mask without a medical exemption will be told to leave stores.

Chief executive David Potts said: “Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won’t be allowed to shop unless they are medically exempt. 

“Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind.”

Tesco said safety remains its highest priority and customers were given regular reminders to follow the rules.

Sainsbury’s confirmed it will post trained security guards at shop entrances to challenge customers not wearing a mask or shopping in groups.