Britons still flock to the shops for non-essential shopping


Britons continue to flout the criteria for essential shopping – as shoppers were today seen snapping up plants, drones, mirrors and pillows.

In Plymouth, hundreds of shoppers were spotted at The Range, buying a variety of items not considered to be ‘basic necessities’.

The Government has said people should only leave their homes for ‘very limited purposes’.

Police even issued a series of guidelines on what ‘reasonable’ excuses are to leave home, and stated that buying paint to redecorate was not included.

But shoppers appeared to ignore the advice today as they snapped up bins, fire pits and a variety of DIY and gardening tools.  

One man was spotted buying a drone at The Range in Plymouth this morning. Not what one might call an essential purchase

Another was spotted buying a fire pit. But he did pair his purchase with a little milk - an item one could consider a 'basic necessity'

Another was spotted buying a fire pit. But he did pair his purchase with a little milk – an item one could consider a ‘basic necessity’ 

Others bought planters in the hopes of using the lockdown to work on their garden. But it's not clear whether this is really an essential purchase

Others bought planters in the hopes of using the lockdown to work on their garden. But it’s not clear whether this is really an essential purchase

One shopper snaps up a variety of potted plants while on a trip to The Range in Plymouth today

One shopper snaps up a variety of potted plants while on a trip to The Range in Plymouth today

A man leaves The Range in Plymouth today with a shovel and a bag of other items. Police earlier this week issued guidelines on what is considered a 'reasonable excuse' to leave home

A man leaves The Range in Plymouth today with a shovel and a bag of other items. Police earlier this week issued guidelines on what is considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave home

Regulations brought after the lockdown give police the power to issue instant £30 fines to people who gather in groups of more than two people or leave their homes without good reason such as for work, food-shopping or exercise. 

The measures were introduced to help stop the spread of COVID-19 after thousands of Britons appeared to be ignoring advice on social distancing. 

A number of shops still open have implemented their own measures to ensure its customers do not further spread the contagious virus.

Many are only allowing a certain number of shoppers in at one time, while the rest have to queue outside in designated spaces, maintaining distance from each other.

Others bought pots of pain and weed killer while on a shopping trip to The Range today

Others bought pots of pain and weed killer while on a shopping trip to The Range today

A couple leave The Range in Plymouth with a large potted plant despite government advice stipulating that Britons should only leave their homes for 'basic necessities'

A couple leave The Range in Plymouth with a large potted plant despite government advice stipulating that Britons should only leave their homes for ‘basic necessities’ 

Two women leave The Range in Plymouth with bags of compost. The Government has said Britons should only leave their homes for essential goods

Two women leave The Range in Plymouth with bags of compost. The Government has said Britons should only leave their homes for essential goods

A man wearing flip-flops leaves The Range with a selection of plastic containers. But one might question whether it is indeed essential shopping

A man wearing flip-flops leaves The Range with a selection of plastic containers. But one might question whether it is indeed essential shopping

Another man leaves The Range in Plymouth with a variety of garden ornaments including an outdoor candle

Another man leaves The Range in Plymouth with a variety of garden ornaments including an outdoor candle

Officers on Thursday issued a series of guidelines on what are ‘reasonable’ excuses to leave home, such as buying several days’ worth of food including luxury items.

The list issued by the National Police Chief’s Council and College of Policing also says people should be allowed to collect surplus basic food items from a friend.

It also permits providing support to vulnerable people or moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a ‘cooling-off’ following arguments at home.

Other permitted acts include buying a small amount of a staple item or necessity, and purchasing tools to repair a fence panel damaged in recent bad weather.

They can also stop to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk, or drive to the countryside and walking – where far more time is spent walking than driving.

Elsewhere, a man pushes a trolley out of The Range filled with a variety of different items

Elsewhere, a man pushes a trolley out of The Range filled with a variety of different items

A man leaves The Range in Bristol with some bins. The government has asked people to only go out shopping if essential

A man leaves The Range in Bristol with some bins. The government has asked people to only go out shopping if essential

A woman leaves The Range with a selection of pillows following a morning shopping trip

A woman leaves The Range with a selection of pillows following a morning shopping trip

This pair left a shop in Plymouth with Pepsi Max and a mirror

This pair left a shop in Plymouth with Pepsi Max and a mirror

A man leaves The Range in Plymouth with some potted plants

A man leaves The Range in Plymouth with some potted plants

Another man also bought himself some flower planters during a trip to The Range in Plymouth

Another man also bought himself some flower planters during a trip to The Range in Plymouth

What do police say is ‘reasonable behaviour’ during the lockdown? 

NECESSITIES

  • Buying several days’ worth of food, including luxury items and alcohol.
  • Buying a small amount of a staple item or necessity (eg, a newspaper, pet food, a loaf of bread or pint of milk).
  • Collecting surplus basic food items from a friend
  • Buying tools and supplies to repair a fence panel damaged in recent bad weather  

EXERCISE

  • Including: going for a run or cycle or practicing yoga. Walking in the countryside or in cities. Attending an allotment. 
  • Driving to countryside and walking (where far more time is spent walking than driving).
  • Stopping to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk.
  • Exercising more than once per day – the only relevant consideration is whether repeated exercise on the same day can be considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving home. 

WORK 

  • A key worker or other essential worker travelling to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home.
  • A non-key worker or non-essential key worker travelling to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home.
  • A person delivering food packages to vulnerable people.

OTHER REASONS

  • Taking an animal for treatment.
  • Moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a ‘cooling-off’ following arguments at home.
  • Providing support to vulnerable people.

Forms of acceptable exercise during the period include going for a run or cycle or practicing yoga, walking in the countryside or in cities and attending an allotment.

Employees are allowed to travel to work whether or not they are key or essential staff, as long as it is not reasonably possible to work from home.

However, police say it is not reasonable for people to go out to buy paint and brushes, simply to redecorate a kitchen.

Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise is also banned, as is a short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period.

In addition, police say a person should not work in a local park if they can work from home, and no one should be knocking on doors offering cash-in-hand work.

They also say that visiting a vet’s surgery in person to renew a prescription where this could be done over the phone is also banned.

Furthermore, visiting a friend in their home or meeting in public to socialise is also banned under the guidelines after the lockdown was brought in on March 23.

But as ministers met to agree the details of the lockdown extension, one of the scientists advising them questioned whether the Government had done enough work on an exit strategy.

Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said: ‘I think there’s a lot of discussion. I would like to see action accelerated.

‘We need to put in place an infrastructure, a command and control structure, a novel organisation for this.’

The Cabinet meeting to agree prolonging social distancing measures came amid signs the epidemic in the UK is beginning to peak.

But ministers were playing down expectations in the wake of those signs with health minister Nadine Dorries urging reporters to stop asking about an exit strategy.

She said: ‘There is only one way we can ‘exit’ full lockdown and that is when we have a vaccine. Until then, we need to find ways we can adapt society and strike a balance between the health of the nation and our economy.’

Mr Hancock said he agreed that things will not go back to how they were, at least in the short term.

Coronavirus UK: New lockdown measures in full

People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following ‘very limited’ purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible.

One form of exercise a day.

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 

Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary. 

Meanwhile, the PM has announced a ban on: 

Meeting with friends. 

Meeting with family members you do not live with. 

All weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals. 

All gatherings of more than two people in public.  

The PM said the police will have the powers to enforce the lockdown measures through fines and dispersing gatherings. 

To ensure people comply the government is also: 

Closing all shops selling non-essential goods. 

Closing all libraries, playground,  outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Parks will remain open for exercise, but will be patrolled.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk