Thousands of violent incidents against shop staff are being reported every week as retailers try to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing rules.
Retail workers’ union Usdaw said social distancing enforcement is now the top cause of attacks and aggression against workers, whereas before the pandemic it was shoplifting.
Almost one in 10 shop staff say they have been assaulted, more than half have been threatened and almost 90 percent have been verbally abused.
Chief Executive of Co-op, Jo Whitfield, said the new demands for staff to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing have created a major flashpoint for “abuse, threats and violence”.
In the last year, the Co-op has recorded a 140% increase in crime, with more than 200,000 cases including staff being spat at and threatened just because they’ve asked customers to respect social distancing.
Whitfield said supermarkets should not be expected to make customers cover-up as this should be the responsibility of the police force.