Theresa May keeps her distance: Ex-Prime Minister strictly observes social distancing rules while queuing outside her local branch of Waitrose

  • The former PM was seen standing with other shoppers outside Berkshire store
  • She glanced at her phone while diligently observing the six feet rule 
  • Police have been on lookout for shoppers buying non-essential items
  • Downing Street have told police shops ‘free to sell anything they have in stock’

Former Prime Minister Theresa May showed strict observance of the six feet rule as she waited to shop in Waitrose.

She was seen glancing at her phone as she waited, along with other shoppers, to go into the store in Berkshire. 

She reportedly spent around 45 minutes queuing outside before she was able to shop for groceries. 

Supermarkets across the country have a range of social distancing measures in place, with cordons outside the branch used by the Maiidenhead MP in Berkshire.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May queuing at her local Waitrose in Berkshire and adhering to social distancing rules

However, supermarket shoppers are set to face even longer queues on Saturday as government rules mean larger stores cannot open on Easter Sunday.

Rules passed down by the Department for Business say no shop larger than 280sq metres can open on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day.

Despite Britain being in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, a DfB spokesman said ‘existing rules still apply’.   

Meanwhile police forces across the country have been accused of being over-zealous by prowling supermarket aisles in a bid to catch shoppers buying ‘non-essential’ items as Britain goes into Easter lockdown. 

Cambridge Police’s official Twitter account boasted that officers had visited a local superstore this morning to snoop on shoppers and found aisles selling non-essentials were ’empty’.

The tweet caused outrage from social media users, with many pointing to a post sent by the same account hours earlier thanking a local chocolate shop for dropping off a ‘generation donation of goodies’ at its police station.   

Cambridge Police’s tweet which mentioned police prowling through non-essential aisles was met with anger by many on social media.

The tweet read: ‘Officers visited Tesco Barhill this morning as part of their patrols around supermarkets and green spaces this weekend.

She glanced at her phone while diligently observing the six feet rule at the store in Berkshire

‘Good to see everyone was abiding by social distancing measures and the non-essential aisles were empty.’

But in a follow-up on Twitter the force said the initial post, which has since been deleted, was made by an ‘over exuberant officer’ and that its position was in line with national guidance.

‘For clarification, the force position, in line with national guidance, is that we are not monitoring what people are buying from supermarkets,’ it said.

‘This message was sent with good intentions by an over exuberant officer who has been spoken to since this tweet was published.’

The force added that while it has had to issue a small number of fines to those ignoring lockdown guidance, none of these were in relation to shopping or supermarket visits.

Among those to chastise the post was Pip Moss, who wrote: ‘The law doesn’t forbid the purchase of non-essential items when also shopping for essentials such as food.

Sales of gardening and DIY items have skyrocketed during the coronavirus crisis

‘Your officers time could be better spent, and over-stepping the law like this harms public confidence in the police.’

Another user added: ‘One day you’re going to have to look back on all this and tell people that in the midst of crisis you chose to spend your time patrolling around looking to enforce laws that didn’t exist.’

It comes as Downing Street warned police today that shops were ‘free to sell anything they have in stock’, while Home Secretary Priti Patel called on officers not to be ‘heavy-handed’ during the coronavirus lockdown.  

She also said the government will ‘absolutely not’ be increasing police powers amid concerns about the way in which some officers have interpreted government guidance on breaking up groups and stopping journeys.

Ms Patel’s intervention came as:

At least five chief constables are calling for the introduction of more stringent restrictions and clearer rules – including laws to enforce limiting exercise to a one-hour period outdoors after some people flouted it to sunbathe in parks or beaches. 

The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK stands at 7,978. 

  

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