Plea to follow Covid rules in shops as Jewish deaths soar

Retailers urge customers to ‘protect one another’ to prevent a wave of further deaths


Leading kosher food suppliers have called for retailers, staff and customers to unite in observing the government’s Covid rules as Jewish deaths from the virus reach the highest levels for eight months.

The latest figures show that more British Jews died of Covid-19 last week than at any time since April, with 49 funerals taking place. A total of 740 members of the community have now died with Covid-19 cited on their death certificate.

The Kosher Kingdom supermarket last week announced new rules for customers to “help protect one another”, including allowing only one shopper per family into shops.

The Golders Green outlet launched a social media campaign to remind customers to take “additional precautions to help one another”, such as reminding shoppers that masks must be worn over the nose and face — and that exemption cards must be shown by those arriving with their faces uncovered.

A prominent safety guidance poster is now on display on the front window of the shop, urging those feeling unwell not to enter to protect other customers.

Steve Grossman, owner of Silvermans kosher butchers, has implemented similar measures at his shops in Temple Fortune, Radlett and Stanmore. But Mr Grossman told the JC: “We can put all the measures in place, we can only let so many in at one time, we can ask families if they mind if only one person does the shopping – but control measures are a partnership between retailers, our staff and our customers.”

At nearby Daniels bakery, staff now monitor the doors from the outside during busy periods, actively stopping anyone trying to enter the premises without a mask.

Those without legitimate exemption are offered a mask from a box kept near the entrance.

A spokesperson for the store said: “Since the lockdown started, about 95 per cent of our customers have respected the rules that are in place.

“There is a small minority who will always try to get away from observing rules. They will try to tell us that they are exempt from wearing masks, or not wear one properly.

“To these people I would say, there is no point to this sort of behaviour.  This has to be a joint effort by everyone to fight this virus. We all want this pandemic to be over.”

Meanwhile, Brent councillor Neil Nerva launched a cross-party push this week with Labour and Conservative colleagues in Barnet and in Hackney by writing to the Kashrut authorities urging them to continue work in conjunction with retailers to maximise compliance with Covid regulations.

Mr Nerva, a cabinet member for public health in Brent, said: “Kosher in 2021, during the pandemic, surely must mean being Covid compliant. It’s really important that Kashrut organisations work together with retailers to enable them to follow Covid-19 guidance and rules. 

“That’s why I hope that Kashrut authorities will take a firm line on enforcing mask wearing by staff and shoppers, and social distancing.”  

The JC has looked at measures in place at leading kosher supermarkets, butchers, delis and bakeries in Golders Green, Hendon, Temple Fortune and Stamford Hill. Some of the biggest names in the UK’s kosher market – such as Mr Baker in Hendon, Carmelli Bakery in Golders Green – seemed to have taken steps to improve social distancing, protection of staff and restrictions on numbers entering their stores. The vast majority of customers appeared to be respecting the rules around Covid-19 prevention.

Some retailers, however, expressed concern about the conduct of customers, particularly during busy times such as Friday ahead of Shabbat. Some were attempting to enter shops with a facemask only covering their mouth and not over their nose.

Marca, a shop worker at Mr Baker in Hendon, added: “We are trying so hard to make sure we stick strictly to the rules and regulations. We have everything in place that is possible to allow us to stay open. But at the end of the day we have to rely on the goodwill of our customers to help make this work.

 “We love our customers — but they must realise how disrespectful and dangerous it is for all if they try to come into the shop without wearing a mask.”

There were also examples of retailers failing to adhere to regulations. On the front window of one small bakery in Golders Green was a sign urging people to wear a mask inside, with a sign affixed saying ‘Cash Or Cheques Only’.

In Stamford Hill, the vast majority of shoppers entered one busy supermarket without masks – and staff were also without protective face aids. 

 A kosher butcher a few doors down displayed a poster urging customers to wear masks, but few of those inside the premises seemed to be following the law.

Another bakery in Stamford Hill displayed a sign warning locals that police had been issuing £200 fines to those seen loitering outside on the streets in groups. The police confirmed to the JC that officers had visited the bakery and had given “advice regarding compliance.” A Met Police spokesperson added: “No fines were issued.”

Rabbi Jeremy Conway, Director of KLBD, said: “It is of the utmost importance that we all play our part in keeping the community safe when shopping.”

Board President Marie van der Zyl added:""Vaccinations are beginning to be rolled out to the wider population, but it is still of vital importance that all of us in the Jewish community continue to follow the health guidelines which have been set out by the Government.

"We, alongside all others in the UK, must remain vigilant - especially in public settings such as shops - to protect ourselves and each other from this terrible pandemic."

A Barnet Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased to hear that Barnet’s Kosher shops are following the lockdown regulations.

"Our Enforcement Officers are on patrol throughout the borough to ensure that this remains the case for all of our businesses.

"The council is committed to protecting the health of its residents, and as such will take a very firm line against those who fail to comply with the regulations, including issuing fixed penalty notices against offenders where appropriate. We encourage members of the public to report any instances of non-compliance by emailing This will help us target our patrols throughout the borough.”


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