The council, police and local shops have condemned the actions of a group of people who went shopping without masks on Saturday 27 March.

Essex Police said, “We were called to Tesco in Princes Road, Chelmsford, just after 12.30pm on Saturday 27 March, following a report of a large group of around 20-30 people entering the store together and not wearing masks.

“When asked by staff to wear masks, they refused.

“They left the store several minutes later and, when our officers arrived on scene, the group were in the car park.

“We engaged with them and encouraged them to leave the area. Enforcement is a last resort for our officers, but one man was issued with a fixed penalty notice and a ticket for driving whilst using a mobile phone.

“No further concerns were raised and the group left the area.

“We would encourage anyone who has information about Covid breaches to continue to report them to us and we will respond to keep people safe.   

“We’d like to thank the majority of Essex residents, who have been working hard to keep themselves and others safe throughout the pandemic.”

Chelmsford City Council said, “Although lockdown restrictions eased slightly this week, it is extremely important that we all continue to stick to the rules in order to keep moving forward and avoid more people becoming ill or dying from Covid-19.

“The Council is extremely disappointed to see that a small number of people chose to shop without masks in a city centre supermarket on Saturday. This action risked the health of many others: both those who were in the shop at the time and others with whom those people have come into contact since.

“The incident was dealt with at the time by police and we are working with them and with the supermarket to review how this happened. Chelmsford has patiently borne restrictions over the past year and residents do not deserve to be let down now by a small, selfish group.”

The One Chelmsford BID said, “One Chelmsford support and encourage visitors to Chelmsford city centre to observe the current social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings inside our businesses unless exempt. We wish to welcome everyone back to Chelmsford as soon as possible and thank everyone who has played their part over the last twelve months.” The BID are a group of businesses who work together to improve the city centre.

Misinformation: deciding for yourself

On social media you may see posts about the virus, facemasks and other topics with statistics and diagrams that look convincing – but often, the figures behind them are fake. Anyone can create a graphic and post it on social media. It might be deliberately intended to deceive, or the person who made it might have just got their facts wrong. Some people make a lot of money out of fake news by getting others to click through to their website.

If you don’t know the source or aren’t sure it’s reputable, check your facts before sharing.

Here are some fact-checking services that may help:

Full Fact
The UK’s independent fact-checking organisation.

BBC Beyond Fake News
A BBC initiative to help you spot misinformation.

Reuters
A news agency which provides fact-checking.

Essex Coronavirus Action
Local anti-fake-news page affiliated with Essex County Council.

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