Coronavirus: Bakery worker threatened with fine for social distancing chalk marks on pavement

28 March 2020, 11:06

The incident took place in Edgware, north London, on Friday
The incident took place in Edgware, north London, on Friday. Picture: EleanorMargolis

By Megan White

A shop worker was threatened with a fine for drawing a chalk sign outside a bakery marking the two-metres safe distance for customers to keep amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Video footage shows a police officer reprimanding the woman for criminal damage after she sprayed the markings outside Grodzinski Bakery in Edgware, north London.

But the paint, which was done on Friday afternoon, was to help customers stay spaced out in keeping with government coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

In the video, the member of staff is heard asking: “So you would rather that all my customers don’t stay two metres apart? You would rather that?”

But the police officer says “the law still applies, coronavirus or not” and proceeds to start writing out a fine, before adding “the law doesn’t stop unfortunately.”

The bakery worker branded the incident “unbelievable,” adding: “It’s chalk, it washes off, it’s not spray paint.”

Eventually, the officer did not issue the fine, and a police spokeswoman said officers would be “reminded about applying common sense and discretion where appropriate in these exceptional times.”

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “An officer on patrol in Edgware saw a shop worker writing chalk signs on the street floor on the Promenade, Bury Lane on Friday, 27 March.

“The officer advised the woman that he was planning to issue a ticket for criminal damage.

“However, following a further conversation, no ticket was issued.”

DAC Stuart Cundy said: “We know our officers, like many key workers, are under a lot of pressure at this unprecedented time, however we are disappointed more discretion wasn’t shown to a member of the public doing her best to contribute to keeping the public safe. This is our aim too.

“The vast majority of our officers and PCSOs continue to be out and about chatting to the public where we have concerns about government guidelines not being followed and to encourage them to comply.

“The actions of this individual officer do not reflect the current policing style that the MPS seeks to adopt.

“The officer has been spoken to and all staff on the borough will be reminded about applying common sense and discretion where appropriate in these exceptional times.”

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