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Coronavirus Plans By Supermarkets Will Dramatically Change How People Shop

Published on: 26 Mar, 2020
Updated on: 27 Mar, 2020

Supermarkets have announced radical plans to halt the coronavirus pandemic including installing protective screens at tills and limiting the number of people in their shops at any one time.

All the major supermarkets are planning to install ‘sees through’ protective screens at their tills. Aldi plans to install the clear screens at more than 7,000 tills around the country. Picture from Aldi’s website.

They were also taking on extra staff to help marshal shoppers to keep to the 2m social distance and limiting how much they could buy of any one product.

And in a further measure to reduce contact between staff and customers, the stores were discouraging the use of cash by encouraging contactless payments.

The plans appeared to be a concerted action by the major supermarkets to limit panic buying and enforce social distancing in their shops as they issued statements on Tuesday and Wednesday outlining measures they were introducing to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Tesco in Ashenden Road, Guildford was enforcing directional flow at the entrances and exits to the store on Thursday (March 26).

The statements by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Aldi were all broadly in agreement as to how they would ensure their staff and customers could shop safely.

A Waitrose spokesperson said the measures were vital and noted: “These measures will dramatically change how people shop and interact with others in our stores for the moment.”

Much of the measures were aimed at implementing government advice to keep to a 2m social distance. Changes were starting to appear in Guildford supermarkets such as separate entrances and exits and staff outside directing shoppers and limiting flow into the shops.

Sainsbury’s was encouraging people to shop for others who can’t access food online or get to a shop to reduce numbers coming into its stores.

The emergency measures seem to be taking effect. One staff member on the tills in Guildford said: “Today is the first day that I think people have been taking it seriously here. Some people had been very aggressive but they are a lot calmer now.”

In a sign of the extraordinary times, Waitrose has said that it is ordering protective visors for staff that wish to use them to create a barrier against infected moisture droplets reaching the user and being absorbed through the mouth, nose or eyes. It was also only allowing one customer or family to use a lift, in stores that have them, at any one time.

Other actions to increase spacing between customers were to reduce the number of tills available and to provide special times for the elderly and vulnerable to be able to shop without crowds or queuing.

Emergency workers and NHS staff have been given a special hour in Aldi and Tesco stores on Sundays, before the normal opening time, as a “thank you for all they are doing,” said the Tesco statement.

Sainsbury’s is encouraging people to shop for others who can’t access food online or get to a shop. The statement said: “If everyone who shops in store also shops for a person who is less able, it will go a long way towards getting food to everyone who needs it.”

The supermarkets were all recruiting to deal with the rush to have a food buffer in the house. With estimates of £1bn of food in stockpiles in UK homes, Tesco said it is taking on an additional 20,000 temporary staff and 8,000 new drivers.  “We are training them as fast as we can,” said the Tesco statement.

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Responses to Coronavirus Plans By Supermarkets Will Dramatically Change How People Shop

  1. Sue Warner Reply

    March 29, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    I was quite happy with the measures in place at Waitrose today but I felt really sorry for the staff on the front door. They had not been given any decent weatherproof clothing and were standing out in the freezing cold in what was the outdoor clothing they had worn to work.

    I think Waitrose could have looked after them better.

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