Coronavirus: Once a week shopping ‘not official guidance’, says No 10 despite cabinet minister’s comments

Sabrina Barr, Matt Mathers
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Downing Street has said that the recommendation members of the public should shop once a week is not official guidance following comments made by a cabinet minister.

During a recent appearance on BBC Breakfast, transport secretary Grant Shapps said people should only shop once a week to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The cabinet minister stated that people should only go to the shops to buy essential goods and nothing else during the lockdown.

“People know the rules that have been set, try and shop just once a week,” Mr Shapps said. “Just do the essentials, not everything else.”

However, when asked about Mr Shapps’ remarks, a spokesperson for the prime minister clarified that “the guidance does not specify that”.

“The guidance does not specify that, no, the guidance says it should be ‘as infrequent as possible’,” the spokesperson said.

For some people “their judgment will be that that will be once a week, but it’s not what the guidance specifies”.

During his interview, Mr Shapps also acknowledged there had been “teething problems” with the Covid-19 self-isolation advice.

It came after police and authorities faced accusations that they had been “overzealous” in enforcing measures designed to help curb the spread of the novel virus.

On Monday, there were reports that some shopkeepers had been told by officials that chocolate Easter eggs were not essential items.

Mr Shapps said there had been “one or two instances” of police being overzealous with enforcement measures but forces were generally being “sensible”.

He added: “I think the police are doing a difficult job.

“There will be one or two instances where they have perhaps not approached it in the right way but in general, actually, across the country not only are people complying very well but, generally speaking, the police are taking a very sensible approach to it.”

Last week, a police officer in Edgware, north-west London, was accused of lacking common sense after he issued a ticket to a bakery using chalk outside its doors to enforce social distancing.

The fine was later rescinded, the Met said.

Meanwhile, on Sunday Derbyshire Police came under fire for pouring black dye into the “Blue Lagoon” in Buxton to deter swimmers.

Derbyshire Police was also criticised by privacy campaigners after it used drones to film people walking in beauty spots.

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