Fringe Box



Long, Compliant Queues At Supermarkets But Two-metre Rule Not Always Observed

Published on: 4 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 5 Apr, 2020

There were long queues early outside Sainsbury’s in Burpham on Friday morning (April 3). It was mostly older people who were using the 8am to 9am time allotted for older and vulnerable customers.

Sainsbury’s in Burpham had set aside a significant part of the car park for customer queues.

The supermarkets were refining their approach, setting out upended trolleys to regiment their customers like a security queue at an airport. People were being careful to keep a distance back from the person in front. It took about an hour to get into the shop.

Only one person per household was being allowed into the store to reduce the number of people inside.

The queue snaked along a makeshift path laid out with upended supermarket trolleys.

Friends called out greetings and exchanged information across the rows of people in the queue. “There was no queue at Sainsbury’s in town yesterday,” said one man.

And there were moments of kindness as well. A woman gave a facemask, still in its plastic wrapper, to an elderly man who was wearing one which was obviously homemade of kitchen tissue, parcel tape and elastic bands. The man started back as she approached and was too surprised or shocked to say thank you.

The queues were about 400m long but people were very patient.

One young man, shopping for his family, was turned away because it was only older people being allowed in between 8am to 9am. He was very gracious about it and thanked the staff member saying to her that she was doing a difficult job.

People discussed the coronavirus and the extraordinary impact it was having. “The government were doing the best they can,” said one woman. A man next to her added: “They should have one person in charge of PPE, that [the shortages] shouldn’t be happening.”

Clear screens had been installed at all of the tills for the protection of staff and customers. They weren’t intrusive and didn’t stop conversation with the customers.

It wasn’t as well organised inside some shops. Martin Giles, The Dragon editor, reporting his evening trip to Godalming Sainsbury’s, said: “Fortunately, there was no queue to enter and my main concern was the lack of observance of the two-metre rule by customers in the store. If it takes two to tango, it takes everyone to co-operate for effective social distancing.

“Sadly, it wasn’t happening, too many displayed an impatient or careless attitude.

“One assistant was putting down yellow and black hazard tape at two-metre intervals. He would have been better employed with a bullhorn reminding customers to observe the correct distancing. In fact, regular reminders over the Tannoy, used only to remind shoppers that the store was closing, might be the best solution.

“Of course, the guidance can only reduce, not eliminate, the risk of infection but I suspect, if my experience is typical, shopping could be the highest risk activity, a far bigger risk than anyone driving to a quiet location for exercise which has been the main subject of debate.”

“Not a bad way to spend an hour,” said one philosophical shopper, adding “There are no bargain offers anymore. Not surprising.”

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Responses to Long, Compliant Queues At Supermarkets But Two-metre Rule Not Always Observed

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    April 5, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Czech Republic claims to have reduced spread of Covid-19 by making it mandatory for everyone going out in public space to wear a mask. They made masks at sewing factories and at home from T-shirts.

    2m distance is fine but people not wearing masks could spread the virus even when not actually coughing or sneezing although airborne virus is thought to be generally of lower concentration. So why the UK has not heeded this advice?

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      April 6, 2020 at 11:38 am

      Covid-19 droplets could be spread simply by people speaking and not only from coughs and sneezes. So a 2m distance is safer but not if people are chatting away as well in the open-air queuing. Tinier droplets could be carried by the wind as in ‘aerosol’ effect.

      If you want to know how to make masks easily at home, instructional videos are available online. It is a good idea to put paper towels inside the layers of the fabric and discard them safely when back home from visiting public spaces. We must wash the mask in soapy water and wash our hands of course before touching anything else.

      Editor’s note: At a Downing Street briefing on Friday, April 3, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam said: “There is no evidence that general wearing of face masks by members of the public who are well, affects the spread of the disease in our society.”

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