With the November lockdown now in full swing, major supermarkets across the UK have started to reintroduce shopping rules.
The recent outbreak of coronavirus has given rise to people feeling anxious about how to get their hands on the food and supplies they need. Whilst supermarkets and the UK government have repeatedly asked people not to stockpile food or panic buy, not everyone is heeding their advice – and so, UK supermarkets have brought in regulations to help ensure that everyone can shop safely and contentedly.
March was the busiest month on record for supermarkets across Britain as shoppers rushed to stock up on vital supplies to see them through the early days of coronavirus pandemic, so it’s no wonder supermarkets are being extra cautious this time around. Some supermarket regulations are mandatory, such as wearing face masks unless you are medically exempt or have an invisible disability. Others – such as increasing the contactless payment limit to £45 – are not, but have been adopted by pretty much every UK supermarket chain.
However, social distancing measures, online shopping, opening hours, and purchasing limits can vary from store to store, so here’s a list of everything you need to know before you shop!
Please note: we have endeavoured to make this list as accurate and up-to-date as possible, however the fast-changing restrictions may mean certain shops make changes without warning. It’s always best to double-check in advance if you’re unsure!
Unlike the March lockdown, Asda hasn’t put any restrictions on food items, but they have plenty of measures in place to keep customers safe. If you forget your mask, they’ve got packets of them available upon entry which can be worn whilst shopping and paid for at the tills afterwards. Meanwhile, 1000 Asda safety marshals across the nation will aid with safety queries, encourage mask wearing for those who aren’t exempt, and hand out sanitised baskets and trolleys at store entrances.
Furthermore, additional hand sanitiser stations are now in place, a hospital grade microbial surface has been applied to basket and trolley handles (the same one used at Nightingale hospitals around the country), perspex screens are being used at checkouts, and the store’s ‘Scan and Go’ system has been rolled out across all their supermarkets. It allows you to scan your shopping using your phone and pack as you go, in order to reduce contact with others. Finally, some of their stores are now open 24 hours a day again, having seen reduced hours during the spring lockdown. Check your local store’s times here.
Deliveries are entirely contactless, and hand gel and cleaning materials have been provided to keep equipment clean for every order. You can book delivery slots online, but may have to check regularly due to high demand. Asda will also place purchase limits on products that are in extremely high demand.
Tesco are asking customers to shop alone wherever possible, in order to prevent large groups of people from congregating in store. They do have purchasing restrictions on some items, with flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes, and anti-bacterial wipes currently limited to three of each per person. Further restrictions may apply online, and there is an upper limit of 95 items per online order.
They’ll use a traffic light system in larger stores to regulate the flow of customers, and elderly and vulnerable customers have priority shopping hours from 9-10am every Wednesday and Sunday (except for Tesco Express stores). NHS workers can skip the entry queue at any time, so long as they have a valid NHS ID. Like Asda, shoppers can pick up masks at the entrance and pay for them once finished shopping. Most stores are open until 10 or 11pm, but many of Tesco’s stores opening times have changed, so be sure to check your local store hours here.
For online orders, drivers are permitted to bring shopping inside for vulnerable, disabled, and elderly customers. Deliveries are still permitted for those self-isolating due to exposure to the virus, but they won’t be allowed to enter your home (you can let them know you’re self-isolating at the door or when you place your order).
Aldi are also using a traffic light system to let customers into their stores, with a simple red or green light above the entrance indicating when to enter. They’re also asking you to shop alone where possible, and shops will open 30 minutes earlier from Monday to Saturday to let elderly and vulnerable customers browse products (in Scotland, customers will be able to buy straight away during this period). NHS, Police or Fire Service staff can enter stores 30 minutes early on Sundays, but will need a valid ID to enter. For the general public, Aldi say their stores are quieter after 4pm, with the 7-10pm slot being their quietest shopping hours.
Aldi’s delivery service is quite new, having only been set up this year. Currently, their standard delivery time frame is three to five working days, and you’ll be able to track your order online to keep an eye on it.
Sainsbury’s are another of the UK supermarkets who have implemented a queuing system to keep customers at a safe distance from each other. Customers are asked to stay two metres apart at all times, and follow markings on the shop floor – like others, they’re also asking that only one member of each household comes in to shop, although children are welcome if they’re unable to stay at home. The number of checkouts has been reduced to ensure social distancing, and sanitiser stations allow customers to keep hands, baskets, and trollies clean.
Priority access is being granted to elderly and vulnerable customers, and NHS and care workers with a valid NHS ID, which will allow them to skip the queue at any time. Meanwhile, they have closed cafes and meat, fish and pizza counters (selected stores only) to free up warehouse and lorry capacity for products that customers really need. Most stores are now open 7am-10am (find your local one here), and more delivery slots are now available – although priority is still being given to vulnerable customers, meaning you may need to keep checking if you don’t qualify as vulnerable.
Morrisons currently have a limit of three items per customer on a handful of products, such as toilet rolls and disinfectant. As with other supermarkets, they are controlling the amount of people in a store at any one time, to ensure social distancing is respected. They’ve advised only one member from each household enters a store, and have a system by which ‘speedy shoppers’ (i.e. those with a basket rather than a trolley) can get quicker entry. Opening hours are back to their usual 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday, but NHS staff have dedicated shopping hours from 6-7am Monday to Saturday, and 9-10am on Sundays.
Morrisons would like you to notify them if you are self-isolating when you order online, and offer a doorstep delivery service that will deliver a range of 47 essential items to the elderly and vulnerable. Morrisons suggest you book delivery slots ahead of beginning your order, in order to avoid disappointment once you’ve selected all your food.
Waitrose has set a purchase limit on “a small number of items”, which includes toilet rolls and flour, but say that they have a good level of stock in all key product areas. Shops are open as usual, but they’ve installed additional measures to make things easier for disabled, elderly, and vulnerable customers, namely prioritising shopping for these groups during the first opening hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. These customers are also being given priority to online shopping slots, whilst NHS staff and social care workers also get priority access to shops and checkouts with valid ID.
Store marshals, floor signage, hand sanitiser stations, and screens at checkouts are also being employed to keep customers and employees safe. Waitrose also ask that only one member of each household goes in to do the shopping, and like most other supermarkets, are encouraging contactless payments over cash. Waitrose cafes are closed and will remain so until January 2021, whilst on-site self-serve coffee machines, bakery grazing areas, and wine bars are also shuttered for the time being.
Unlike other supermarkets, Iceland aren’t restricting the number of people from each household in stores, but do have a maximum limit for the number of people allowed in their stores at any one time. They ask customers to follow social distancing measures, and are also keen to direct people to online shopping, with thousands of delivery slots available.
Lidl are encouraging shoppers to come when their stores are quietest – after 2pm, according to their traffic-light system. They’re using floor markings and monitoring the number of visitors in order to ensure that people remain a safe distance away from one another while shopping, but won’t discourage you from shopping with other members of your household.
Marks & Spencer
M&S employees have been provided with perspex screens at tills and checkouts, and hand sanitiser to use when needed. Contact-free delivery is available for groceries, clothing, homeware, flower, and wine orders, but if you’re heading in-store, you can join their Queue Smart trial, which lets you queue from the comfort of your car. Other in-store M&S services, such as Bureau de Change and M&S Bank, are closed, but M&S cafes which are close to their foodhalls are remaining open for takeaway services.
We will keep adding to the article as and when we have new information.
Also published on Medium.