Supermarkets have reminded Britons that couples and families should not shop together in a bid to aid social distancing measures ahead of England’s new winter lockdown.
Stores across the nation have reemphasised a raft of rules to keep shoppers safe ahead of the latest coronavirus lockdown, which comes into force in England at midnight tonight.
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.’
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: Stock image
Last minute shoppers were seen in large queues outside a Costco in Lakeside, Essex, on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s national lockdown
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.’
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.
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
‘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
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.
What are the rules for shops from Thursday?
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
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.’
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.
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
‘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.
‘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.’