TESCO was forced to close its store over the weekend as it reached maximum capacity - as frustrated shoppers saw people “fighting over the roasties”.

Pictures show shoppers inside the Tesco store on Prince Avenue piled together, queueing for checkouts and in the aisles, with Paul Thompson, former chair of Southend’s seafront traders urging the council to take action.

Tesco has admitted the store reached maximum capacity at the weekend, prompting the doors to the store to close for a short time.

Mr Thompson questioned whether it could do more away from the seafront to stop coronavirus spreading, but the leader, Ian Gilbert, told the Echo he has “no plans” to close the town centre car parks.


Government ministers have now told supermarkets to crack down on rule breakers in shops, with a focus on those not wearing masks.

Mr Thompson said: “The council is obsessed with the seafront and blaming visitors for spreading the virus.

“Visitors aren’t going to a Tesco in Southend on a Sunday afternoon.

“What happened to the seafront marshals we had over the summer?

“It was a free for all in there.”

Ian Gilbert said it “wasn’t practical” to station Covid marshals in supermarkets, adding: “We have made contact with all supermarkets to urge them to stick to the rules.

“We only have a small team of community safety officers.

“We can’t have them in supermarkets 24 hours, seven days a week.

“We need supermarkets to manage their own customers.”

Martin Terry, councillor in charge of community safety, added: “We have had ten more Covid ambassadors join us in recent weeks.

“There are parts of the town that visitors always go to. That’s why the seafront car parks closed. It makes no sense to close the town centre car parks, people need to go shopping.”

A spokesman from Tesco said: “The safety of our colleagues, customers and suppliers remains our number one priority and we have extensive measures across all of our stores to help keep everyone safe, including limits on the number of people in stores at any time.

“Our Southend Extra store has a traffic light system that monitors the number of customers in store and closes the doors when capacity is reached.”