Police have been criticised for expressing their pleasure at "non-essential aisles" being empty in a Tesco as they patrolled it amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Officers visited the supermarket in Barhill, Cambridgeshire, this morning, as restrictions face a tough test this Bank Holiday weekend .
"Good to see everyone was abiding by social distancing measures and the non essential aisles were empty," an officer wrote on the Cambridge Police twitter account following the visit.
People swiftly questioned what constituted a non-essential aisle. Although Government guidance outlines shopping should be for "essential" goods, it does not detail what does not fall into this category.
One wrote: "I bought biscuits the other day. Should I hand myself in?"
1/2 For clarification, the force position, in line with national guidance, is that we are not monitoring what people are buying from supermarkets. This message was sent with good intentions by an over exuberant officer who has been spoken to since this tweet was published.— Cambridge Police (@CambridgeCops)April 10, 2020
Another said: "Hi. Am I allowed sauce on my pasta or does it have to be plain?"
Following backlash, the tweet was blamed on an "over exuberant officer" who has since been "spoken to".
A subsequent post said: "For clarification, the force position, in line with national guidance, is that we are not monitoring what people are buying from supermarkets. This message was sent with good intentions by an over exuberant officer who has been spoken to since this tweet was published."
Cambridgeshire Police's chief constable yesterday said: “We will be out across the county over the weekend ensuring people continue to comply. Where there are cases where people refuse we will engage with those people and if we have to use the powers available to us.
“People may not think it but by staying in they are really making a difference. This disease does not discriminate, we are all at risk and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect people.
“Our approach is to engage and encourage people to go home but if people still won’t comply we will act."
It comes after a chief constable for Northamptonshire Police yesterday suggested officers could start searching people's shopping to deem whether their trips were necessary.
He has however since said his wording was clumsy and this would not be the case.
Home Secretary Priti Patel later said that approach “is not the guidance” .
Speaking to Talk Radio, she said: “That’s not appropriate, let me be clear about that.
“That is not the guidance, that is not down to the measures we’ve been adopting thus far.
“I think though, what we should just say about this weekend, in particular, is the weather is going to be good, it’s Easter, we really do need to all take responsibility here, and it’s not about overreach.”
Police have powers to break up gatherings and fine people breaching lockdown rules.
Legislation bars people from leaving their home unless they have a “reasonable excuse”, which includes getting “basic necessities” such as food and medical supplies.
But the law does not prohibit buying certain types of food and drink. It permits supermarkets, corner shops, off-licences, hardware stores, pet shops and post offices to stay open.