Tesco has apologised to a single parent who alleged she was refused entry to one of its shops in Waterford while accompanied by her daughter.
Tara Lawlor (28), from Waterford city, said she and her daughter were stopped outside Tesco's Poleberry store on Saturday by a security guard who cited social distancing measures introduced in response to coronavirus.
Many retailers are asking people to shop alone during the pandemic to minimise the numbers in shops and to make it easier to adhere to the distancing guidelines.
Ms Lawlor said she was returning from a walk with Scarlett (5) when the child asked for a drink and she realised she also needed to buy milk. She claimed that as she went to enter the shop, a security guard held up his hand and stopped her while mentioning the guidelines.
“I asked him if he was refusing me entry but he said ‘no, I just can’t let you in with the child. It’s for the protection of her and others in the store’,” she said.
Ms Lawlor said she again asked if the security guard was refusing her access and said he again told her he was not, but that he could not allow her to enter with her child.
“I got upset then and said this is happening to us everywhere and I mentioned that I had hassle from another security man in the store a few days previously,” she said. “It affects my child too, she’s picking up that people don’t want her in places.”
A spokeswoman for Tesco said the retailer apologised for any inconvenience caused to the customer, and confirmed that its store team would be following up with Ms Lawlor directly.
“At Tesco we understand this is a challenging time for everyone, and we are doing everything we can to make sure everyone can get what they need as efficiently as possible in a safe and stress-free environment. We are encouraging people to shop one person per trolley, whenever possible. We realise this is not always feasible and of course we understand that,” she said.
“As we all respond to Covid-19, we want customers to know that their safety and that of our colleagues is our priority.”
Ms Lawlor said the restrictions introduced in response to the virus were “hard for everyone” with people worried about jobs and security and that as “a single parent all the worries are amplified”.
“They could have offered to get me what I needed and bring it outside. It was only milk and a drink for my child, but they didn’t offer any help,” she said.
“I’d understand if it was an off-licence and I was trying to buy a bottle of wine which is far from essential but it was milk and a drink for my thirsty child.”