Shoppers are grappling with yet more coronavirus measures today as supermarkets bring in safety marshals and traffic light systems as a new lockdown begins.
As the four-week winter lockdown sweeps across England, supermarkets have implemented swingeing safety measures as they remain the last vestiges open for customers – with non-essential retail forced to close.
Asda is trialling a ‘safer queuing’ app that will see customers waiting in their cars before receiving a notification telling them they can enter the store.
It has stationed 1,000 ‘safety marshals’ at the front of stores and in the aisles of larger stores who will ‘reiterate Government guidelines to wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.’
The supermarket giant has also put antimicrobial handles on basket and trolley handles, to limit the spread of bacteria.
Aldi is continuing with a traffic light system limiting the amount of people in stores.
Stores have also started rationing again in a bid to curb panic buying with a Tesco in Ely, Cambs, putting limits on essential goods, such as toilet rolls, flour and eggs.
Supermarket bosses have reminded couples and families not to shop together and reemphasised a raft of stringent rules amid the latest coronavirus lockdown, which came into force in England at midnight.
People stocked up at the Asda superstore in Southampton, Hampshire
Asda has stationed 1,000 ‘safety marshals’ at the front of stores and in the aisles of larger stores
Sainsbury’s and Tesco have banned couples and families from shopping together in a bid to aid social distancing measures ahead of England’s new winter lockdown. Pictured, Sainsbury’s supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds today
Lockdown one and two: Above, people observing social distancing while queuing at a Sainsbury’s supermarket at Colton, on the first day of the first national lockdown on March 24. Below, a photo taken today, the first day of the second national lockdown in England
Panic buying: A man was left gobsmacked after spotting a fellow shopper buying trolley-loads of rice, pasta and crisps at an Aldi store in Lincoln ahead of the start of the new lockdown
What are the rules for shops from today?
Shops that can stay open:
- Food shops
- Garden centres
- Retailers providing essential goods and services
Shops that must shut (including but not limited to):
- Electronics stores
- Vehicle showrooms
- Travel agents
- Betting shops
- Auction houses
- Car washes
- Tobacco and vape shops
Aldi, Morrisons and Tesco have previously shared details of priority shopping hours for the elderly and NHS workers, which look set to remain in place throughout the four-weeks of restrictions.
Sainsbury’s has today reminded customers to shop alone wherever possible in a bid to cut queues and aid social distancing inside its stores.
In a statement, CEO Simon Roberts said: ‘Where possible, we ask that you only send one adult per household when you shop with us.
‘This will help us manage the number of people in our stores and make your shop quicker and smoother.’
A notice on the supermarket’s website adds: ‘Our store teams will be asking groups with more than one adult to choose one adult to shop and will ask other adults to wait.
‘Children are welcome if they are not able to stay at home.’
Advice from Tesco currently asks that ‘only one person from each household comes in-store to do their shopping’.
Those at Waitrose have taken a similar stance, asking customers to ‘help us manage the number of people in our shops by sending only one member of the household to do their shopping.’
The guidance adds: ‘While this won’t be possible for everybody, we are very grateful for our customers’ support during this time of uncertainty.’
Last minute shoppers were seen in large queues outside a Costco in Lakeside, Essex, on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s national lockdown
Reams of shoppers were seen queuing up outside Costco yesterday ahead of the UK’s second national lockdown on Thursday
Queues of shoppers went around the massive Costco store in Lakeside, Essex, yesterday as customers stocked up before Thursday’s lockdown
High Street bloodbath: More than 9,500 jobs in jeopardy
More than 9,500 jobs have been put in jeopardy at some of the biggest High Street names as England goes into lockdown once again today.
John Lewis cut a further 1,500 jobs yesterday, adding to the 1,300 axed when it permanently shut eight stores in July.
Lloyds Bank is to make 1,070 more staff redundant on top of the 865 earlier in the pandemic.
And Sainsbury’s confirmed this morning that it will cut around 3,500 jobs across its Argos stores and supermarket meat, fish and deli counters.
Meanwhile Clarks shoes put the jobs of all 4,000 of its store staff on notice as part of its fight for survival.
This advice was reintroduced this week after the supermarket relaxed its approach over the summer.
Aldi is also encouraging customers to shop alone, with current advice stating: ‘In order to help with social distancing, we are encouraging all customers to try and reduce the number of family members they bring with them into our stores.
‘Where necessary we are using discretion, but like all supermarkets we’re asking people to come alone if possible to support social distancing in our stores.’
This guidance has been in place throughout the pandemic in many of the aforementioned stores.
Supermarkets across Britain first introduced measures banning multiple members of a family from shopping together in March, when Boris Johnson announced a draconian lockdown due to the growing pandemic.
He unveiled a second lockdown for England on Saturday, which will come into force at midnight tonight and last for four weeks until December 2.
Under the rules, all but essential shops will close alongside restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and leisure centres.
The furlough scheme that pays workers 80 per cent of their wages will be extended for a month, and travel outside the UK will be allowed only for ‘work’.
Bare shelves at a Tesco superstore in Cambridge ahead of the national lockdown, as customers stock up on bread
Boxes of eggs are bare after customers panic buy items before England’s national lockdown
Rationing starts in Tesco
Supermarkets are rationing their goods again as customers panic buy.
Tesco supermarket in Ely, Cambs, has put limits on essential goods, such as toilet rolls, flour and eggs.
Supermarkets have been urging people not to stockpile items, but customers appear to be taking no notice and are stocking up on non-essential items and cupboard goods, just as they did back in March before the first national lockdown.
On Monday the shelves were bare in aisles at Asda in Cambridge and Tesco in Ely in Cambridgeshire.
Home delivery slots are also getting booked up, with many customers struggling to get slots and taking to Twitter to complain.
Amsilks tweeted: ‘It’s already started * cannot get an online shopping slot at tesco in the next three weeks! Great everyone * As a teacher I’ll be at work after Thursday just like I have been since the first lockdown!’
Chris added: ‘Tesco we have delivery saver and a newborn and can’t get a delivery slot for days * is there anyway you can help us out?’
Mr Johnson said it was the the only way to avert bleak Sage predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter.
He warned it that happened it would force doctors to choose between saving Covid sufferers and those with other illnesses.
News of the lockdown sparked a second bout of panic buying in British supermarkets, with stores forced to start rationing their products again after shoppers descended on shops en masse.
Supermarkets have been urging people not to stockpile items, but customers appear to be taking no notice and are buying large amount of non-essential items and cupboard goods, just as they did back in March before the first national lockdown.
Home delivery slots are also getting booked up, with many customers struggling to get slots and taking to Twitter to complain.
A Tesco supermarket in Ely, Cambridgeshire, put limits on essential goods such as toilet rolls, flour and eggs on Tuesday.
The shelves were also stripped bare in aisles at Asda in Cambridge and Tesco in Ely in Cambridgeshire a day earlier.
Elysium Sexsmith said shelves of products such as pasta, toilet roll and nappies were cleared entirely in his local Lidl in Luton.
‘There was absolutely no stock on the shelves whatsoever,’ the 41-year-old musician said.
‘There’s kitchen towel but no toilet rolls… there were people picking up the kitchen rolls and wondering if they can use that.
‘I was in absolute disbelief, and I literally walked out of the shop shaking my head.
‘At this point in time it didn’t have a major impact on me… but there is the concern that I may not be able to get essential supplies in a week’s time if this carries on.’
M&S shoppers book slots
Shoppers at Marks & Spencer can now jump the lockdown supermarket queue by booking a timed slot to enter the chain’s food halls.
With lockdown two starting on Thursday amid plunging temperatures, dismal scenes of supermarket queues and already booked out online delivery slots look set to become all too familiar once again.
Dubbed ‘Sparks Book and Shop’, M&S shoppers with or without a Sparks loyalty card can now visit its website and book a guaranteed time slot to shop at their local store without having to queue.
After a trial across 80 stores in Scotland and Wales, the scheme is now available to use across all M&S’s 566 food halls and larger stores containing food halls.
Dominic Roberts, a store manager at M&S in Pontardulais, said: ‘At a time when it’s been hard to plan ahead, customers like the certainty of being able to book a slot and we’ve received great feedback about the service – especially as restrictions have increased.’
The move may prove popular for those who like to do a physical shop rather than head online to get groceries in.
Supermarkets have repeatedly encouraged shoppers not to stockpile, with Lidl’s website telling customers: ‘Our stores are being replenished every day.
‘That item you want to buy ‘just in case’, might be essential for someone more vulnerable who can’t visit the store multiple times.’
A Tesco spokesperson said: ‘We have good availability in stores and online, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.’
Ratula Chakraborty, professor of business management at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said it is unclear how widespread the issue of panic buying is but it could ‘spiral out of control’ without intervention.
‘Unfortunately, some customers are going crazy in grabbing everything they can to put in their trolleys… in turn, this is encouraging copycat behaviour by other shoppers,’ she said.
‘The result is empty shelves and the possibility of panic buying spiralling out of control.
‘Shoppers will naturally think of their own needs and will fear losing out if they see other shoppers stockpiling.’
A UK Government spokesperson said: ‘As the Prime Minister said on Saturday, essential shops will remain open, so there is no need to stock up. Our message to everyone is that people should be considerate in the way they shop.
‘The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain which held up well in the spring, and will do so again.
‘We continue to work closely with food retailers and the food industry as we have done throughout the response to the coronavirus pandemic. They report no overall supply issues.’
Mark Hall, waste management specialist at Business Waste added: ‘The second wave of panic buying that is occurring is utterly disgraceful. During the first wave we saw tons of perishable goods being recklessly stockpiled to only go to landfill in the weeks after.
Shelves of toilet rolls are left bare after customers panic buy, despite the fact that food stores will remain open during England’s winter lockdown
Panic buying of toilet rolls emptied shelves at a Morrisons store in Norwich as customers stock up ahead of Thursday’s lockdown
‘There is no shortage of food or toilet paper as we learned from experience and we are only putting the pressure back on supermarket supply chains for no reason. We have to stop and think about the elderly and those who can only access their local shops for their weekly shop and stop panic buying.
‘If we continue to send food waste to landfill it will decompose, rot and produce methane, one of the most damaging greenhouse gasses. Food waste is best disposed of through anaerobic digestion and composting to minimise the harmful impact to the environment.’
Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2
- People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
- Non-essential shops will be told to shut
- Restaurants and bars will be told to close unless they can operate a takeaway service.
- Travel abroad is only permitted for ‘essential’ reasons such as work, people can still return to the UK from abroad.
- Leisure centres, gyms, sporting venues, hairdressers and beauty parlours will have to close, although professional sport will continue.
- Key businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should carry on as before.
- Places of worship can stay open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family only.
- The furlough scheme will be extended during the period of the lockdown
- Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted.