HUNDREDS of warnings have been handed out to shops and businesses who have failed to observe social distancing rules.

Council chiefs say the majority of businesses have been sticking to the guidelines but some have not been playing by the rule book.

Gavin Callaghan, Labour leader of Basildon Council, said more than 100 warnings had been given - with the council receiving 83 complaints from the public.

He added that most of the complaints centre on masks, with shoppers venting their anger at people not wearing one.

Southend Council refused to give any detail on the number of warnings it has issued so far and did not specify how many complaints it had received.

However, Martin Terry, councillor in charge of community safety, said he had reported an incident himself, involving a mobile burger van displaying sauces on the front counter.

Mr Terry said: “We have to be so careful. These are touch points.

“We don’t want to be heavy-handed. We’d much rather pop in and have a chat.

“We don’t want any business to close, but we will take the ultimate action.”

Mr Callaghan added: “The council continues to monitor business arrangements and are also responding to complaints about social distancing practices to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it is the behaviour of other members of the public that causes concern, rather than the business practices themselves.”

Spot checks are being carried out in both Basildon and Southend.

A spokesman for Southend Council, added: “If anyone feels that a business needs to be reported, then they can do so on MySouthend.

“We will then visit the business to give them some advice to help improve their individual situation and make their customers feel more secure.

“This may include recording details for track and trace, hand sanitising stations, face masks and shields, one-way systems and more.”