Coronavirus: Call to show 'respect' to shop staff as man arrested on suspicion of criminal damage

Paul Ainsworth

Shoppers have been urged to show "restraint and respect" to staff during the coronavirus crisis after a workers at a west Belfast store were threatened by a customer as he queued to enter.

Security staff overseeing the queueing system which adheres to social distancing rules at the Saveways Eurospar store on the Springfield Road were subjected to verbal abuse while struggling to remove the man yesterday afternoon following a dispute.

Video footage circulated on social media shows the man threatening staff and telling workers "I know where you live" during the incident, before he attacks a cordon put in place to keep customers apart while queuing to enter.

It is understood no-one was physically injured during the incident, and a PSNI spokesman said a 31-year-old man was later arrested and has been subsequently charged to appear before Belfast Magistrates' Court today with offences including criminal damage, disorderly behaviour and assault on police.

A spokesperson for Saveways said the store remained open following the incident.

Sinn Féin councillor Claire Canavan said the footage showed that shop staff are facing "difficult times" and called for all shoppers to adhere to rules put in place for their own protection.

Myth buster: No, sunbathing will not protect you in any way against Covid-19

"Firstly, I would totally condemn this incident, and it's simply unacceptable that key workers such as shop staff have to face this while trying to maintain vital services during this pandemic," she told the Irish News.

"People are already nervous and facing uncertainty, and incidents such as this only serve to make things worse for everyone. I would call on people to show restraint and respect during this time when carrying out tasks such as food shopping."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access