As a result, customers and businesses across the Black Country and Staffordshire are being urged to act responsibly and help to keep shops Covid-secure to stop a surge in infection.
The have been reports of poor compliance with Covid-19 guidelines across the region – with some not practicing social distancing, or following one-way systems put in place to help keep staff and customers safe.
Although non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality are among those that can now reopen under step two of the roadmap out of lockdown, which started on Monday, people are being reminded they must continue to wear face coverings in shops and shopping centre – unless they are exempt for medical reasons. They should also practice social distancing from people they don't live with.
The guidelines apply even if people have received their coronavirus vaccine.
Ross Cook, Wolverhampton Council's director of city environment, said: "Most shoppers and retailers are acting very responsibly, and we thank them for helping to keep themselves and others safe.
“Disappointingly, however, some people are not wearing face coverings, following one-way systems or practicing social distancing when they should be.
"Our staff have also witnessed overcrowding in some stores and issues around the correct use of PPE in some close contact services.
"I’d urge customers to ensure they are following the Covid-19 rules to help keep everyone safe from this deadly virus and enable us to make the move out of lockdown a successful one.
“And I would remind businesses that they are responsible for the health and safety of customers and staff on their premises and would invite them to contact us if they need support implementing the latest Covid-19 guidance."
Dr Richard Harling, director for health and care at Staffordshire County Council, said: "It’s great that many businesses across Staffordshire can now reopen after what has been an extremely tough and uncertain time for them.
"I’m urging residents to do everything they can to minimise the spread of coronavirus and avoid restrictions being imposed again.
“The best way to do this is by continuing to follow the rules and making sure you’re getting tested regularly, at least twice a week. Take extra care and remember hands, face, space and fresh air when visiting shops or meeting people you do not live with in beer gardens and other legally permitted settings.
“Staffordshire residents have played their part tremendously throughout the pandemic and particularly during the last few months. It’s crucial that we don’t give up now and stick to the guidance to ensure the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown can continue as planned.”
While Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council's director of public health, urged residents to "vote with their feet" and avoid businesses not following Covid guidance. She added: "In order to maintain this as we come out of lockdown we need local businesses to play their part.
“Our message is that if a shop, pub or restaurant isn’t keeping you safe – don’t go there. If a business doesn’t seem to care about my health, or my family’s health, then why should I use their services?
“If you are in a shop where people aren’t wearing face coverings – leave and shop somewhere else. If you are visiting an outside area of a pub or restaurant where people aren’t social distancing and your details haven’t been taken in case of an outbreak, go and drink or eat elsewhere."
Stephen Gunter, director of public health at Walsall Council, said: "Whilst it is great that the lockdown is easing, we want it to be the last one, so I’m still emphasising the importance of hands, face, space and letting fresh air in when we are indoors – we must continue to be cautious and not stop doing the right things too soon.
"We are moving in the right direction – which is encouraging and if we continue to follow the guidelines, it will certainly make a difference in the borough and wider now and in the future.”